Unrequited slacker shuffle

It was the “last” recorded song from The Dismemberment Plan for many years, if you care all that much about album sequencing, the sendoff tune that punctuated a weird/dazzling career on the vanguard of fringey post-punk math rock. “Ellen and Ben.” It’s a relationship parable, I think, or rather a story about a relationship *as viewed from* the outside looking in, a position rigged with misconceptions and unspoken misunderstandings. I’ve probably listened to this song a thousand times, decoding signals in the layered synth notes that move us from one verse to the next: the slides, the blurps, the quirky noises and gentle backdrop melodies that help build the narrative tension (I mean, the narrator is in love with Ellen, that much is obvious, and so what we’re witnessing essentially is an unrequited interpersonal story dredged in memory, the sort of thing that can’t be easily remediated through the present, can’t be wrung out for anything overtly meaningful).

All of this makes the final verse as powerful as it is. It’s a laid-back, fuck-all salutation, a slacker shuffle pointed toward the near future. “You know I would love a surprise.”

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