Thursday, August 29, 2019

Certain Songs #1620: The Posies – “Solar Sister” | Medialoper

Album: Frosting on the Beater Year: 1993

. . .

My favorite song from Frosting on the Beater, “Solar Sister,” was described by Ken Stringfellow on 120 Minutes as “kind of an anthem of admiration for a person who doesn’t appreciate themselves,” which I have no doubt is true, but it’s never been a song that got over to me because of the lyrics.

Which isn’t to say that “Solar Sister” isn’t an instantly memorable title, because it totally and completely is, but what I really love is the perfect balance between loud guitars, exquisite harmonies and dynamic song structure.

With almost no fanfare, “Solar Sister” kicks off with Stringfellow singing over a lone guitar, almost instantly followed by the whole band, as well as Jon Auer on the harmonies.

I’ll call you sister Carrie but I’ll never say it
Beauty to a whisper
And spin your solar sister
The magnet will deliver
An arrow from the quiver
I’ll call you sister Carrie but you’ll never hear it
Fifteen minutes later
As time pulls down her fader
And nibbles off the fakers
Who roll under the breakers

As is often the case with my favorite Posies songs, the vocal arrangement is what sells it. See all of those words ending in “r” in the lyrics? Instead of singing “And spin your solar sister”, they sing “And spin your solar sister-her-her-her-uh-her-her-herr”. They do this line after line, verse after verse, and it’s just exquisitely lovely every single time, especially when contrasting all of the squealing guitars.

And speaking of squealing guitars, there’s after a quick breakdown in the middle, followed by a psychedelic Jon Auer guitar solo that dances in and out of Mike Musburger’s drums and goes on longer than you might expect, and then back to the harmonies, thank you very much.

And here’s what I don’t understand: how this song wasn’t a hit on the same level as at least “Dream All Day.” I know that in 1993, things were already beginning to turn against us, but “Solar Sister” would seem to be on the same level of other songs that hit around that time, like the singles by the Breeders, Belly or — gods forbid — fucking Weezer. The only thing I could think is that they didn’t make a video for it, so it got dinged because of that.

“Solar Sister”

“Solar Sister” live acoustic on 120 Minutes, 1993

“Solar Sister” live at Reading, 1996

“Solar Sister” live on KEXP, 2010

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