“Belly of June” by Horse Feathers

82. Song No. 919: “Belly of June,” Horse Feathers
Thistled Spring, 2010

Thistled Spring was my heady, delightfully auspicious introduction to Horse Feathers; the album that leads me to a beloved band tends to imprint itself on my heart the hardest and this one is no exception. Like Spoon and Matt Pond and a handful of others, Horse Feathers have not put out an album I don’t love — but this one is on a level all its own as far as I’m concerned.

“Belly of June” got me first and instantly, with its humid heaviness and twinkling strings that just epitomize summer for me. I sang along and learned its ebb and flow and put it on repeat (to the tune of at least 138 plays, per what Last.fm’s tracked), and then took an embarrassingly long time to actually process the lyrics I was singing along to: It is a beautiful song about one determined creeper. And maybe it’s my love for broken characters or misapplied empathy or just feeling a certain kinship with anyone, real or fictional, who has no idea how to regulate their emotions, but I feel badly for the fellow in this song who reads far more into the sultry summer one-night stand he can’t mentally move past. It makes for a complicated, tangled-up feeling whenever I have an “Aw, I love this song!” moment because one-sided attachments are terrible no matter what side you’re on but present a pretty lopsided danger that maybe shouldn’t merit so much pity.

But I do love this song. And it’s an objectively effective little bit of storytelling that I really love about those songs that can pack so much into a few minutes of words and music. The entire album is really like that, honestly, but “Belly of June” just does something to me that few other songs can, and as part of an album that somehow always feels a little different with every listen, like those portraits that seem to follow you with their eyes and get into your head for apparently knowing exactly what you’re thinking.

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