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Pepper Rabbit: A Watcher's Lament

In "Allison," Pepper Rabbit's Xander Singh sings of wistful want, with an extra dose of obsession.
Courtesy of the artist
In "Allison," Pepper Rabbit's Xander Singh sings of wistful want, with an extra dose of obsession.

If Tyler, The Creator is as sick of criticism as he suggests, he could learn a thing or two from Pepper Rabbit. The Los Angeles duo has a habit of stuffing dark subject matter into cheery harmonies, to the point where it's easy to miss. Even at its most explicit, as in "Murder Room" — "Next I put your head in the window for everybody to see / No one yet realizes it's not connected to the rest of your body" — the new Red Velvet Snow Ball is played with a straight face and insurmountable charm. When listeners do pick up on what's going on, the crafty hooks and emotional auras are likely to overcome any discomfort.

It helps to keep it subtle, as in "Allison." As Xander Singh pounds out a dizzying carousel of a melody on his piano, he sings with a wistful want for the title character. It might seem more romantic, he admits, if the object of his affection hadn't already brushed him off as "a creep." His case isn't aided by the insistent chorus — "And you will know my name / dear Allison" — even as the keys resonate with good faith.

There's a chance Pepper Rabbit never intended "Allison" to be a stalker's ode. But aren't all love songs, by nature, a little overly obsessive? It's not like Sting meant something else when he sang, "I'll be watching you."

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Erik Myers
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