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When a delicately pretty pop song opens with the lines “I am not so innocent, you realized / When I cut your head off your body,” the listener would normally suspect that there must be some metaphorical meaning at work. That would be an incorrect assumption in the case of “Showers Without Warning,” a track by Los Angeles’ Hi Ho Silver Oh. The band has recorded an entire suite of songs as their alter-egos, Happy Campers in 3D, inspired by the Friday the 13th film franchise, so all the bloodbath imagery of “Showers Without Warning” is intended literally, no matter how prettily it’s performed.
And it is performed very prettily indeed, full of lush harmonies and soaring “ohs” and “ahs” and Casey Trela’s deceptive choirboy vocals gliding atop a bed of shiny pop hooks. Musically it might best be described as a cross between Fleet Foxes and Arcade Fire, mixing the Foxes’ delicate folk-rock harmonies with the Arcade Fire’s facility with soaring pop constructions. The sweetness of the presentation makes the contents of the lyrics feel that much more subversive.
Lyrically, “Showers Without Warning” is all beheadings and severed arteries and spurting blood. The action takes place, of course, in a shower – ever since Psycho the main rule of slasher films has been “get naked, get dead” and the rules still apply in Hi Ho Silver Oh’s songs. The main difference is that in the movies, the bloodletting was never set to soaring pop bliss.
It says something about the oddity of today’s pop music scene that the main thing that will keep “Showers Without Warning” off the radio is not the subject matter but the presentation – radio doesn’t have much use for sublime pop made by actual humans anymore. Radio probably wouldn’t have much of a problem with the slicing and dicing of they lyrics. In today’s musical world, setting those lyrics to sweet pop music is the most transgressive thing Hi Ho Silver Oh accomplish.
“Showers Without Warning” comes from the two-song 7″ record of the same name released this past January by Trailer Fire Records.