Anna Meredith – “Taken” (Singles Going Steady)

There's a healthy dose of great "eureka!" moments that pop up as Anna Meredith's song evolves.

Chris Ingalls: The robotic guitar/synth pulse that runs through “Taken” gives the song a tangible spine on which everything hangs. That kind of repetition sounds like a recipe for a solid dance track, but Meredith is too smart for that, building on the simple pulse with a series of great ideas, whether it’s a floor tom beat, a slashing guitar chord, or a hook-heavy vocal melody. There’s a healthy dose of great “eureka!” moments that pop up as the song evolves, giving the whole thing both an easy pace and an unflagging energy. [8/10]

Emmanuel Elone: Don’t be fooled by the Nirvana-sounding vocal harmonies and the repetitious lyrics; this song is much more than that. Anna Meredith focuses on grooves more than explosive instrumentation, and she does a great job. The guitar riff is moody, the drums are simple yet pulsing, and the bass glides along underneath it all. The melodies and rhythm on this work off of one another to make a song that’s equal parts beautiful and funky, with an outpouring of mood and emotion to boot. [6/10]

Pryor Stroud: There’s some irrecoverable video interview with Bradford Cox — now, in all likelihood, lost in the lower intestinal passageways of YouTube — wherein the Deerhunter frontman explains the core tenets of his songwriting process. To paraphrase, he says something like, “Unlike the great pop-music composers of the past, who, like John Lennon, sat down and programmatically crafted three-to-four minute ideological takedowns out of the bare ingredients available to them, I am of a different breed, a songwriter from the zero-attention-span generation who comes up with a micro-concept and, from that, draws out the expanse of a song.” However, this songcraft binary — the method-driven composers are here, the spontaneous, running-on-talent savants are here — falls victim to Anna Meredith’s “Taken”. It’s a song of steadily disintegrating focus but, at the same time, it feels meticulously planned. Unmistakably, it is a composition: you can feel the placement of its parts, their transmutation into little, vignetted romantic episodes, and how it is all strung together across a linearly-tautened vocal chant that seems unaware that it will hit any sort of terminus. What bears mentioning, though, is that it is a composition that seems to be getting progressively bored with itself, interjecting little jagged, Pixies-esque guitar crawls and bloated, staggering bass lines just to stay interested in itself as a piece of music. Listen to the coiling “Yeah Yeah Yeah’s” that mark the chorus and it’s abundantly clear: Meredith is sitting down at the piano, shoulders squared with perhaps the same sense of purpose that Lennon had, but then a memory disrupts her, then another, then another, and slowly she become so preoccupied with transcribing these memories that her initial purpose is left behind. [8/10]

Steve Horowitz: The power of serial repetition serial repetition serial repetition. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah — maybe we’ve heard it all before, but hearing it again and again can be soothing and make one focus. An interesting sonic experiment. [7/10]

Chad Miller: “Taken” features a simple melody, but the music underneath it has such a drastic impact on how we interpret the sound. The mood shifts so easily while the same rift is being sung over and over. It’s a really cool effect, and it owes a lot to its versatile guitar parts. [8/10]

SCORE: 7.40