MP3 of the Week: ‘What Are You, What Are You Made Of?’ by The Leafs

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The term “pop gem” has a ring to it with ‘What Are You, What Are You Made Of?’. At a precious 35 seconds in total, The Leafs (Michael Pulsford and Gus Kemp) have made a song that is so compressed, so clear-cut that it sounds like one quick jangle of diamonds. It’s probably the tambourine.

Similar to David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, ‘What Are You, What Are You Made Of?’ strums and swaggers as if rock was made for acoustic guitar. It’s confident and it’s referring to someone in the 2nd person and it’s berating them in poetic non-sequiturs. It’s classic Bowie.

It’s also one of those annoying songs that you’ll have to keep playing over and over to really feel satisfied by, like the title track of Tea For The Tillerman. It goes chorus, chorus, bridge, chorus, end. You can hear each section flitting past like spit down a stairwell as you hover your finger over the rewind button. It’s great.

Though relatively unexplored in the pop world, the simple purity of a good short song is universal. It’s roots are in the most ancient of human traditions. Go up to the youngest talking kid or the grumpiest old man and they’ll have a little song for you, most likely a nursery rhyme or a dirty limerick respectively.

A good song doesn’t have to keep repeating on and on if it’s short and leaves you dreaming. In a way ‘What Are You, What Are You Made Of? is sort of like what Brian Wilson called a “Pocket Symphony”, only more like the coin pocket on your jeans.

Have a quick listen http://leafs.bandcamp.com/track/what-are-you-what-are-you-made-of

The Leafs launch their new video clip at Builders Arms in Fitzroy this Saturday 15 October.
Mad Nanna, Avant Gardeners (SA) and Inevitable Orbit also play.

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