Song 226: Harvey Danger, “Problems and Bigger Ones” (1997)

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Even though I know they’re coming, the distortion blasts in “Problems and Bigger Ones” always take me by surprise. I’m never prepared for the sheer power, the treble-y edge that slices the song in half when I’m not paying attention. Harvey Danger was like that. Singer Sean Nelson sounded equally at home singing quietly and loudly, with the former almost always leading to the latter. You just never knew when, or how, the explosion would happen.

That unpredictability is not only what I love most about this song, but about the entirety of Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?. A catchy hit about the inanity of nineties trends? Sure. A song devoted to the Alfred Hitchcock movie Vertigo? Why not. And let’s finish the record with “Radio Silence,” an eight-minute slow-burner to end all slow-burners. It was both of its time and full of quirks that only this band could pull off.

I think Nelson’s voice is hugely underrated, for the reasons described above but also because it’s so dang strong. Even when he’s shouting “I never said no” on “Problems and Bigger Ones,” he’s right on pitch. Melody, even when hollered to wallpapaper-peeling distortion and pounding drums, was never lost.

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