Blade of Glory: The Buttertones Get Dark on “You and Your Knife”

Will Schube takes a look at The Buttertones' "You and Your Knife."
By    June 8, 2018

Will Schube’s signature dive is the jackknife. 

Names can be deceiving. Take The Buttertones for instance, a group whose title suggests a ‘50s barbershop quartet group heavy on tales of spurned teenage love laced with finger snaps and pitch-perfect harmonies. But in actuality, The Buttertones, a five piece group based in Los Angeles, concoct gothic surf hymns and all-black bonfire gatherings. Their latest LP, Midnight in a Moonless Dream, is out now via Innovative Leisure, and the group’s latest single, “You and Your Knife,” only furthers their mission to prove that guitars sound better when drenched in saltwater.

“You and Your Knife” slides staccato guitars and a spare drum part beneath Richard Arazia’s laconic and hushed vocals. Synths briefly appear and disappear, serving as brief accompaniment for your Halloween party that’s just a little bit too scary. The Buttertones are decisive in the vision they chase and present, caught somewhere between ‘70s surf rock and ‘90s goth rock. They’re a band straight out of a Thomas Pynchon novel, fitted with Coy Harlingen on the sax and Siouxsie Sioux working overtime as spiritual consultant.

As a group hesitant to embrace a specific time or place exclusively, The Buttertones spread themselves widely and capture the eccentric specificities of the various terrains they call home. On “You and Your Knife,” the song’s morose spirit is infused with a rollocking looped saxophone solo before returning back to its roots, the band barely acknowledging the near-apparition that popped up unannounced.

Towards the song’s conclusion, Arazia’s voice grow in confidence, to the point of almost suggesting an R&B-spirited lilt in his delivery, accented with serious vibrato—just another twist of the knife in a surprisingly dense three minute affair. The track is sliced and diced and re-arranged with enough havoc to confound and enough coherence to linger after its dying moments. “You and Your Knife” conjures up the smooth devastation of a blade, although one used for butter would never do the trick. But then again, what’s in a name?

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