Track Review: The Books – “A Cold Freezin’ Night”

[Temporary Residence; 2010]

If the new track by the genre defying duo The Books, “A Cold Freezin’ Night” was released by a more notable band, particularly, say, a metal act in the 1980s, it would be torn apart by gangs of angry politically correct politicians and mothers, attempting to protect the impressionable youth from a blatantly violent and content. The “lyrics” of the song, which are made up entirely of samples of children talking, are indeed profoundly disturbing. With a young boy describing the various methods he will use to hurt and kill, a girl’s yearning to be male, and repeated militaristic chants of the track’s title, the song is shockingly graphic, although in a much more profound way than Tipper Gore maligned songs like W.A.S.P.’s “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast).”

Despite being a little bit unsettling, especially upon first listen, the song is also quite effective as a musical piece. Coupled with a constant thump, repeated electronic riffs and child like percussion, the twisted samples form something of a representation of a child’s most animal emotions. “A Cold Freezin’ Night” perfectly emulates the fragile state of the young mind. With seemingly random noises entering without warning (including a particularly surprisingly fiddle), instead of being told a narrative, we are taken inside the brain and it’s often illogical processes, even more abstract and raw at younger ages. It’s a powerful reminder of some unpleasant childhood times we probably wouldn’t want to tell anyone about, and also, at least for me, a reminder to have some compassion and forgiveness for little kids overcome with emotion, even anger.