“The Birthrite” – The Fashion Focus

I’m glad that we are back to a song that bears its teeth a bit. Don’t get me wrong; I like the songs we’ve reviewed on this album thus far. I just like my Starflyer a little bit rude. This song has swagger. The drums are steady but powerful; they go double barrel in all the right places. The layered “yeah yeah yeah’s” have the disaffected sneer of a post-punk Liverpool teen (I do love Liverpool boys; they are like Kentucky boys but so much more exotic and they have better musical taste). I like how the track starts with the sound of a song in progress. I feel like I arrived at the party fashionably late (which is accurate for me in general).

The guitar and bass run the show here. The rhythm and bass combo pounding out the da-da-da-da-da-da line is as relentless as the Red Army attacking Berlin. What really gets to me is the krnk-rgggk upstrokes at the end of a phrase. It’s all about those upstrokes for me. Take it from a girl who knows – you can pound out that da-da-da-da-da-da line all day and everyone will have a decent time, but it’s those upstrokes thrown into the rhythm that hits a girl at her epicenter. Yeah yeah yeah.

Some might
Some might sell out on the birthrite

This is another one of those instances where I was today years old when I learned the lyrics to this song. I don’t know that I have much to offer here. But just like the lead guitar on this song sounds wonderfully unplanned, I’ll go with it and we’ll see what I can come up with.

Esau sold his birthrite for a bowl of soup. As we used to say when I worked mental health, Esau had “poor choicing skills”. I think girls had to hear this story growing up in church more that the boys. Well-meaning Sunday School teachers would raise the specter of Esau to teach us girls that we needed to hold our sexual purity so close to our bosoms that no one else could get near them. I always wondered why we focused on Esau’s poor choices when Jacob was the real dick in this story. Why didn’t we talk more about Jacob?

Never shy
And you never shot a bird right

I take this as a reference to sin. In particular, it reminds me of that definition of sin as “missing the mark”. Maybe that reference comes to mind for me because I was always the designated skeet puller for my dad’s gun shooting extravaganzas.

But you’re taking on the worst shine
You’re taking on the worst shine
With the hairiness you never had

At first I thought this was a diss on bald guys. Being bald must be hard. But having hair is hard too (me and my hair are frenemies at best).

Oh wait, someone is finally talking about what a dick Jacob is. Thank you, sf59! I’ve been waiting for this. Jacob tricks a blessing out of his blind father. Jacob impersonates Esau by slapping on some animal skins and guiding his father’s hand to touch the fur (man, Esau must have been, like, Robin Williams level hairy).

Jacob is a complicated hero. He’s a trickster. On the whole, people do not benefit from knowing him. Plot twist: he wrestles with himself all night, then demands a blessing. He’s wounded for life but he is also reborn as Israel (“one who struggles with God”) and becomes the father of the church. Maybe that’s why they didn’t like talking about him in Sunday School. Jacob is too real. If we look at him too long, we might have to wrestle with our own sins.

Some might
Sell out on the wrong side
In the corner of his eye
“Well he never shot a bird right”
But you’re taking on the worst shine
You’re taking on the worst shine
With the hairiness you never had

The second verse repeats the first for the most part but there are some shifting perspectives here. Why is “Well he never shot a bird right” in quotes? Doesn’t that seem odd?

I haven’t yet addressed what I think the theme of this album is. The previous three albums were a sort of trilogy, each with their own theme or spirit (as it is with other great trilogies like the Star Wars Ep IV- VI or LOTR). The Fashion Focus is more scattered, but there is a theme here. Several of these songs are about judgement. You’ll see it more as we get further in. It’s a special brand of judgement too; it is judgement issued from a place of perceived purity in the singer.

This line in quotes stands out to me. There’s been several judging verses so far on The Fashion Focus. This is the first line that hints that the judge might be starting to observe his own judging behavior.

… Or maybe the song is just about skeet shooting and bald guys.

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