Elke’s Eno-esque New Single ‘Vacuum’ is a Paragon of Post-Punk Ennui
We’d like to think it’s a bit cheeky, releasing a song called ‘Vacuum,’ after sixteen months of pretty much almost everything sucking. But there’s actually something much more visceral and personal to the new Congrats Records single by burgeoning Nashville songstress Elke (real name Kayla Graninger).
It lyrically starts out seemingly snarky enough, with her languidly intoning, “If I could give you anything / I’d give you this / It’s the best vacuum cleaner you’ve ever put your hands on,” with a cool, throaty-voiced aplomb. But the song becomes a plea to not sit idly while life just passes one by, an especially salient message as the world struggles back to some manner of real life, and there’s a distinct possibility that some may have developed newly agoraphobic tendencies.
“I decided a vacuum is what one needed first and foremost,” she explains, “because in reaching distance from where I was writing the song was a book I was reading, Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin. I had the line already written, ‘If I could give you anything, I’d give you this,’ and from there I had to decide what that was. Seeing the book ignited the idea of a vacuum because the main character cleans homes for a living, and I also have this weird attachment to the sensation of vacuuming, watching the dust get picked up.”
Produced by Paramore multi-instrumentalist Zac Farro (also of HALFNOISE), it musically begins with a kind of languorous, Eno-esque/art-pop insouciance, before an eerily echoey guitar kicks in to provide the atmospherics. It all ends up oddly sounding a bit like early Gary Numan, but without the synthesizers and anxiety-plagued vocals. The accompanying video (directed by Farro) sees Elke watching herself on a retro television screen, also harkening back to the familiar early ’80s media-within-media trope. But the message of the song + video remains clear, as we see a lone male sitting detached and lifeless in a lounge chair for the duration – Farro describing it as “Elke trying to wake up a person who’s lost all hope.”
Or as Ms. Graninger emphatically puts it, “It’s all my way of saying ‘Wake up! Try harder and make something of yourself!'”
We’re on it.