You and Me Against the World, Baby
What is the worst crime a music scribe can commit? How about getting a great recording in the mail and then procrastinating forever when it comes to writing the review. You and Me Against the World, Baby came out in Canada more months ago than I’d care to admit. The CD has just been issued in the UK, so that gives me a kick in the rear to give the disc a write up while it’s still new somewhere.
To me, You and Me Against the World, Baby, feels like Priya’s version of 1984. The CD kicks off in a horrifying world of anger and despair. It's front-loaded with discordant guitars, jumbled voices and pounding rhythms. The songs paint a world of dark clouds and polluted seas. "Motherfucking West" kicks you in the teeth. I imagine the song may be inspired by the case of Canadian engineer Maher Arar, who was plucked from a transit lounge in New York and sent to Syria for months of torture. When Priya asks, ‘do you have a conscience, prick," I imagine her spitting the question in the face of the idiots who make these insane decisions. "She Said (Why Were We Born)" will frustrate listeners looking for simple pop tunes. Thomas uses overlapping vocal tracks to reflect the confusion and anxiety of the modern world. Ultimately, she answers the question why were we born with “I don’t know, you tell me!”
Around the disc’s midpoint, the clouds begin to part. The world in the title track is still dystopian, but the promise of finding a safe harbor is somewhere over the horizon. By the time Priya gets to "The Future Belongs to the Rest of Us," the barricades have been mounted and resistance is in full swing. This should be an anthem for folks sick of business as usual. When I play this song, I imagine thousands of people marching in the streets demanding change. The future belongs to the nameless many!
By the time we get to "A Little More Fine," the clouds have parted and the sun has returned. The music is clear and bright. The clutter and drama have been replaced by an almost sing-a-long melody. Priya affirms that things will get better. She tells us to let the bad days run their course because things will be alright. In an alternate reality, "A Little More Fine" is a chart topping hit.
The disc ends with "Autopilot" and a slight return of the darkness and doubt that colored the first part of the disc. It’s an ambiguous ending. Priya has brought us through a troubling world of turmoil to a land of hope, but it takes vigilance to maintain.
With the world becoming more connected, I really hope that people will be able to find this disc. I can’t understand why an American label hasn’t snatched up distribution for this disc. Wait. Yes I can understand. US labels are obsessed with processed pop hits. Priya Thomas is an intelligent, provocative artist with something to say. No wonder she’s finding distribution in the UK before the US.