In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
“New Goodbye” by Hey Rosetta! is one of those perfect songs, one I can listen to over and over again on seemingly endless repeat. As the lead track off the Newfoundland band’s second album, Into Your Lungs (And Around In Your Heart And On Through Your Blood), it’s also something of an announcement of intent: These songs are going to be a little cloying and sappy, but they’ll be underpinned by music with an epic sweep and an appealing earnestness about the idea of letting go of the past and embarking on new beginnings. As such, “New Goodbye” (and the band’s whole career, really) is perfect for January.
I’ve always liked songs that sound like driving toward an endless horizon, a hint of rain spattering on the windshield, and “New Goodbye” is a perfect example of that. It starts small, just a slightly plucked guitar, Tim Baker’s voice quietly crooning over it. “Pack your things,” he sings. “We’re leaving.” Like all great Hey Rosetta! songs, “New Goodbye” is about traveling toward that horizon, about going on an adventure.
Baker’s lyrics can tend toward the overwrought and overly sentimental, sounding a little like the high school valedictorian giving a speech at his graduation. (“When trusting a stranger/ your trust will be returned.”) But the band’s masterstroke is that it marries this sort of material—which can be genuinely hopeful and profound more often than it provokes eye rolls—to music that builds and builds and builds, including a classical string section and piano in addition to the traditional rock quartet setup. In some ways, Hey Rosetta! resembles Mumford And Sons, in that it seems to have one song structure it endlessly repeats. (Well, Hey Rosetta! has two: the gradual epic and the plaintive ballad, more in keeping with Baker’s singer-songwriter roots.) But while some people argue that Mumford is already phoning it in after two albums, Hey Rosetta! has discovered seemingly endless variations on the structure it first perfected in “New Goodbye.”
And then there’s the part at the end when Baker turns the phrase “our arms open wide” into not a period on the song but an ellipsis for the future, one eye turned toward everything that’s coming. The rest of the band joins in on “wide,” making it seem like the word most brimming with possibility in the whole of the English language, despite it being only four letters (and one of those a silent E at that). Then I wonder if I can listen just once more, and, yeah, I can, and I hit repeat.