RADIATOR HOSPITAL - Play the Songs You Like (CASS)
When you’ve been intensely involved in music for any given period of time — as Sam Cook-Parrott certainly has over his seven-plus years in Radiator Hospital — the act of listening to it and performing it and making it settles into a cycle, like the rhythms of everyday life are mirrored by the rhythm of whatever comes out of your headphones. Play The Songs You Like, Radiator Hospital’s new full-length album, is at least partially about the experience of music itself, treating it like some kind of ecclesiastical beacon, a marker of times both good and bad and passing. “The songs you like are getting older every day,” Sam Cook-Parrott sings on the quasi-title track and the implication is that, of course, you are too.
It treats music as an expression of something greater than we can muster; it captures a feeling indescribable but undoubtedly real. “I think I know the words, so I try to sing along,” Cook-Parrott sings on the closing track. “Add me to the list/ Yeah, it’s getting pretty long, but I feel something when you play that song.” Radiator Hospital’s ever-growing catalog contains a lot of songs that make you feel something, usually some mix of happy and sad and nostalgic and hopeful. There’s a spark to Cook-Parrott’s writing that morphs and adapts to whatever you might be going through at that particular moment, which is why his albums are always a welcome respite from the tremors of daily existence.
Play The Songs You Like contains fifteen good new ones (plus a spectacular Martha cover). And, as with most Radiator Hospital songs, they all come back to the way music can bridge the gap between two people. Like when you catch a friend’s eye at a show and an unspeakable question passes between you in a glance. “We get fucked up in the same places, but when the wave comes crashing down will you swim to me or watch me drown?” Cook-Parrott asks on “The People At The Show” and we hope beyond hope that the answer is yes.