Why did Herman Dune decide to name their fourth album 'Giant'? Perhaps it was simply because of its size - at 16 tracks and 55 minutes, it does feel like a bit of a giant, especially by my own attention-deficient standards.
But the tracks themselves aren't 'giant' in the usual musical sense of that word. If you told me that you'd written a 'giant' song, I'd expect some kind of Rush-esque musical odyssey, with synthesisers and duelling solos and histrionics fireworking out of every orifice. I wouldn't expect something like 1-2-3/Apple Tree, a relatively simple acoustic ditty with a charming reprise, a catchy tune, and not much else.
That wasn't meant as an insult - this is actually one of my favourite songs at the moment
It's worth mentioning that the album's title is also one of its constituents. Giant is track 13 of 16 on Giant, but to be honest, I'm not entirely sure what the song is supposed to be about. The lyrics are sung by a man stood on a cliff as an ant climbs up his leg; it's vague, impressionistic stuff, and the only meaning I can glean from it is the notion that, relatively speaking, everyone is simultaneously a giant and a dwarf. It just depends on the perspective, the point of view.
But many of the album's other songs seek to make ants of their protagonists, placing them in huge, sprawling worlds against which they seem very tiny indeed. Some examples: Take Him Back to New York City expresses a longing for a place on the other side of the world, while the man who sings Bristol struggles to shut out everything that's going on in the world and focus on the here and now, perhaps to feel a little less small and insignificant.
In this light, the album's considerable length starts to look like quite a clever trick - it's easy to get lost amongst those 16 tracks, and you'd be forgiven for starting to feel small and insignificant yourself. Having said that, the individual songs do have a familiar, welcoming feel to them, and if you can follow Bristol's advice - that is, "focus on what's here" - everything begins to feel a lot warmer and more intimate.
It's a rare album that manages to be both intimate and sprawling at the same time.