Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Shawn Biggs at Studio Paradiso, San Francisco, California
Do young men still woo young women by tossing small pebbles at the panes of room windows, soft enough to be detected by the sleeper in the identified room, but silent to all those throughout the rest of the home? Do these pebbles peck off of the glass and carom at 45-degree angles, falling to the flooring of a hanging balcony that recalls settings from important scenes in the plays of Shakespeare? Do young men spend their time gathering sweaty palms still, lying awake making nights worrisome with doubt and unrequited love that almost makes them burst like a water balloon? Do they picture themselves climbing up trellises to take their fair maidens into their arms and really just love them truly, not in the sticky, commercialized, lustful way that you see in the big pictures and on the little screens?
If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, or I believe so, then The Maccabees could be the rightful chroniclers of these uncorrupted feelings of innocent love - the kind that Meredith Wilson wrote and Judy Garland sang about. Did Frank Sinatra help start the progression toward love going to that sexier place? Not quite sure, but Orlando Weeks approaches the term and the emotion with a flattering sense of "never been here before and it's everything I hoped it would be from the pictures."
All these pictures are dated and brittle, yellowed at the edges and showing men in suit coats and the most dapper accessories, the women in the finest dresses down to the floors, clutching hand fans and getting doors opened for them everywhere they go. Weeks probably doesn't just bring his love interest enough flowers to fill three vases every waking day, but he cuts them fresh, going out to his own private garden and snips the stems of the prettiest and most aromatic.
The love in Weeks' songs is patient and yet anxious for a return volley, blushing not at its existence, but appreciating it as a rare exposure to something that is more mature than anyone would likely give it credit for. It's believed in and it's loved itself - just the feeling of being in love is loved. It's not sappy or soggy, just honest. The toothpaste kisses - while suggesting that the two lovers have moved in together - are innocent, despite the circumstances. They offer the natural progression that love takes when it's naturally begotten. You love, you move in and you live, live, live.
*Essay originally published August, 2007