By Caleb Oldham
“Judy” is a song about a dog, the tragedy of separation, and the pointlessness of blame. Like someone murmuring about a past tragedy, frontman Miguel Gallego sings in a weathered voice about the loved ones, or in this case, the dog, that you leave behind transitioning from one place to another. Released last month as a part of a split on Milk Beard Records entitled i know who i want to crush my bones, the collection of songs is, in Gallego’s words, “very much about seeking stillness while everything around you changes.” No song off of this split translates that message musically as well as “Judy.”
The stillness that this song seeks resides in its protagonist’s vocals, while the shifting, layered instrumentation is what changes all around it. "Judy's" strength lies in the emotional effect that this contrast produces -- best expressed as the feeling of holding on to something of the past while still moving forward. Musically, at least in the context of Gallego’s work, that’s exactly what this song is doing. The sound is anchored in 80s, somewhat Ariel Pink-inspired waters, yet it is simultaneously proof of Miserable Chillers' ability to continually innovate and evolve, not only in terms of songwriting but production as well. In many ways, the story is told by the mixing of the song, just as much the lyrics. The tension, for example, contained within Gallego’s somber delivery is only brought to light by the sonic backdrop of the synths --rising and crashing as he pleads “careful as you leave,” or carrying the melody as he mumbles “I’ve been doing what I can.” If an individual track can be thought of as a raw ore lying in the depths of a creative psyche only to be mined and brought to light, then a good mixer is one who melts these tracks into one cohesive, shiny, finished product. For Miserable Chillers, these tasks are performed by a sole person, and the product is a beautiful gem of “fuzzy ambivalent pop.”
Judy is in good company on the split LP, sharing magnetic tape with tracks like “Silvery,” as well as four songs by Ames, Iowa native I’m Gonna Die. Listen to the entire split, as well as more Miserable Chillers, on Gallego's Bandcamp.