Monday, July 27, 2015

Running vs. Sprinting

A couple of weeks ago, I told you all about The Burning Hell and their unique knack for finding power in powerlessness. Shortly after that blog post went up, I realised that said knack wasn't unique at all - in fact, there's at least one other album in my current rotation that pulls the exact same trick.

Sprinter is the second album by Torres, a.k.a. Mackenzie Scott from Macon, Georgia. It was one of my Top 5 Albums of 2015 So Far, and it's another great example of that 'power from powerlessness' thing that I mentioned a fortnight ago.

I don't think Sprinter is a concept album, per se, but it does feature several songs that deal with the theme of running away. The most obvious example is the record's razor-sharp title track:

This song is all about running away; more specifically, it seems to deal with Mackenzie Scott's choice to run away from her stifling baptist church upbringing. Now, running away is usually thought of as a cowardly thing to do - a braver soul would stay and face her problems, right? - but through Sprinter, Torres finds empowerment in her choice to run away. She's not taking the coward's way out; rather, she's exercising her freedom, taking her life into her own hands. The title of the song (and indeed the album) reflects this perfectly: a 'sprinter' is not a coward or a weakling but a powerful athlete who gains fame and glory from running.

It's interesting to contrast Sprinter with a slightly older song about running: Turn Tail by the Young Knives.

Turn Tail also finds a kind of power in running away, but this time, the power comes from admitting one's powerlessness rather than from escaping it. The song's big lyrical hook (first heard at 2:44) is as follows:
"Turn tail and run, 
Turn tail and run, 
I will turn tail and run, 
I will turn tail and run."
Unlike Mackenzie Scott, who quite convincingly tells us that running away is a brave and empowering thing to do, the Dartnall brothers embrace their own cowardice, clutching it to their chests and turning it into something like a mantra. This chant, bizarrely, ends up making the narrator of Turn Tail sound very powerful indeed; his unerring commitment to running away almost seems like a point of pride, and by completely surrendering control ("We're all slaves on this ship, this ship's sinking"), he finds a new kind of power in his choice to do so.

So don't feel bad next time you choose to run away from your problems - if Torres and the Young Knives can find power in that choice, then so can you. As The Burning Hell themselves say, sometimes you have to let things slip away.

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