by alex wexelman
It took somewhere around twelve listens to Choir Boy’s “Angel Dog” before I could really put my finger on it. The song, which is the first single from debut LP ‘Passive With Desire‘ – out on Team Love Records, October 28th – had a clear antecedent but what it was I just couldn’t pin point. A litany of reference points were rolling around my head, from Jeff Buckley’s angelic falsetto on ‘Corpus Christi Carol’ to Bryan Ferry’s adult contemporary turn on ‘More Than This’, but neither felt quite right.
And then, like a rocket screaming across the sky (to paraphrase some schlemiel author), it came to me: The Alan Parsons Project. ‘Eye in the Sky’ sounds like a song Choir Boy songwriter Adam Klopp heard during a late night stroll through a neon supermarket. It happened years ago and he’s since forgotten the trip, but the song burrowed itself in his subconscious. There are apparent sonic similarities between the two tracks: they each have a similar tempo, feature two-chord verses, and have a refined ‘80s sound. Angel Dog, however, is much more than the sum of its influences. Drum machine claps and electric piano lines certainly give it a retro feel but Klopp is someone with his eyes set on the future; someone with a vision.
The first hint of Klopp’s prescient power comes about a minute into the track. His lyrics are penetrating poetry and his voice soars like a flying saucer. One snarky blogger pejoratively applied the descriptor “choir boy” to Adam’s vocal technique and having a sense of humour, he ran with it. “I wasn’t really offended, I just thought, I guess it’s true. My parents make me sing in choir. Oh well. It seemed funny to me as sort of a comical reclamation of the mocking title I received from “punk” peers as a teen. While serving as a weird reflection of my childhood and musical heritage,” Klopp wrote in a statement.
Adam, who was raised Mormon, attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, but he eventually fell out with the church. He’s since filled the void with sci-fi television such as The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and if ’80s music is the smoking gun that points to the sound of Angel Dog, it’s The Smoking Man who serves as inspiration for the words. On the chorus, Adam sings of wanting to disappear: “Ascender of the sky, Please be fair , Take me away from here.”
Losing someone dear, as the lyrics suggest, can make one seek an escape from reality. It’s this universal feeling of break-up related anguish with which even aliens might relate. During the final chorus, a live string section is introduced and adds another layer of beauty to the track. Soon enough you’ll find yourself twelve listens into Angel Dog, but perhaps your only epiphany will be that you can’t wait for more from the Choir Boy. Listen below.
‘Passive With Desire’ is released October 28th, via Team Love Records