The Books: The Mysteries Of The Universe

Beautiful People

2 min 52 sec
The Books; credit: Runar i i

From the outset of "Beautiful People," The Books' vocalist, Nick Zammuto, conjures a hymn-like mood. Runar hide caption

itoggle caption Runar
The Books; credit: Runar

From the outset of "Beautiful People," The Books' vocalist, Nick Zammuto, conjures a hymn-like mood.


Monday's Pick

  • Song: "Beautiful People"
  • Artist: The Books
  • CD: The Way Out
  • Genre: Experimental

Whether it's references to tangrams or music-theory mathematics, trying to make sense of The Books' "Beautiful People" ends up revealing more questions than answers. From the song's outset — a solemn incantation played in reverse — vocalist Nick Zammuto conjures a hymn-like mood: "Behold the finite set of 13 convex figures / The rational sin versus tangent 45." Similarly religious language ("genuflect," "amen") crops up throughout the song, but the object(s) of extolment appear to be secular: "Pure abstraction" and trigonometry are celebrated rather than "amazing grace."

Luckily for those who may not relate to lyrics about fractions, the music speaks for itself. Buoyant, space-race electronics chug along with the syncopated drum-pulse (somewhat akin to Kraftwerk on the Autobahn), with decorative washes of horns and a few weaving guitar parts for good measure. The mood is charming, especially by way of Zammuto's accent-shifting repetition of "to begin again" and the song's gorgeous coda. And, while some listeners may scratch their heads at the words, the sense of intrigue feels appropriate after a few listens. After all, who ever said understanding the mysteries of the universe was a prerequisite for venerating them?

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