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Partner, “Play the Field” – Tom’s Weekly Jam

Another crazy week at work has once again left me relying on my Discover Weekly playlist for my Weekly Jam, but that’s fine because “Play the Field” by Partner is another really good track. This song by the Canadian pop-rock duo deals with the pangs of high school love, a situation complicated by the protagonist’s reluctance to admit her feelings lest she be bullied for being a lesbian. I can’t relate to that aspect specifically, but everyone remembers what it was like to have that first crush, to notice another human in that way for the very first time. This track is fuelled by that all-consuming infatuation, and is so charmingly earnest that it’s only slightly annoying when singer Josée Caron yells ‘Guitar!’ before unleashing a solo.

There’s a really sweet and innocent quality to the lyrics; though the song depicts the burgeoning sexuality of its school-age characters, it’s more about the butterflies-in-the-stomach sensation that young love inspires than anything untoward. Similarly, the composition and instrumentation is simplistic but extremely effective. Though I like to think my musical palette is a bit more complex now than it was when I was 13, I’m still a sucker for a cathartic power chord progression and some palm muting. “Play the Field” instantly sends me straight back to my teenage years when, for better or for worse, every emotion I felt was the most extreme version of it possible, and for a simple three minute rock song to have that kind of effect isn’t half bad.

I’ve given the whole album, In Search of Lost Time, a couple of listens and really enjoyed it. There’s not a huge amount of variety there, but songs like “Everybody Knows” and “Comfort Zone” . Unfortunately, what should be a quick and breezy listen is bogged down by several tedious ‘skits’. Didn’t bad rap albums kill those off at least a decade ago? Well, they’re back, and while they probably only total a couple of minutes, they never fail to stop the flow of the album dead in its tracks. Maybe they’d be easier to deal with if they weren’t so, well, pretentious? I don’t tend to find that word particularly helpful, but there’s no other way to describe recordings such as “The World Needs a Good Band” in which the need for a band that ‘really excites people’ is lamented.

Look, I don’t really buy into the whole ‘rock is dead’ narrative – musical trends wax and wane, and guitars will be back – but if rock really does need a saviour, it’s not Partner. Their music is good, and very enjoyable, but it’s not exactly Great with a capital G. And that’s okay! There’s enough bands in the world that they don’t all need to be forging the future of their respective genres. Sometimes music just needs to be fun and catchy and emotive, and that’s what Partner is to me. I don’t need anything more than that from them, and I hope they come to find that they don’t, either.


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