"Up All Night," SAULT
Whenever a classic rock or hair metal band goes on about how they’re gonna “party all night long,” I wonder if they’ve ever actually, in fact, partied all night long. They love to slather the sentiment in fist-pumping, shout-over-the-house-band bravado, heavy on testosterone and “we’re going to shut this motherfucker down” attitude, verrrry light on subtlety. But that’s only the 10 p.m. second-beer stance—aspirational, but not even remotely sustainable without a nostril’s worth of coke or two (which, to be fair, a lot of these bands are more than prepared to ingest). The night is so much longer than you think, cowboy, and you’d do well to pace yourself. Every once in a while you’ll get a droopy, last-call quasi-ballad, suitable for tipping the bartender and then cautiously staggering toward the door while trying not to piss yourself. So we’ve got the beginning and the ending covered, but what about the rest of the night, the part when things actually happen? Where are the songs for the midnight exodus to the less reputable bar with the better jukebox, or the ill-advised 1 a.m. make-out session with…um, what’s-his-name, y’know, the guy with the nose ring (no, the cute one)?
What I love about “Up All Night” by the prolific internet mystery trio SAULT is that it’s the one song about going out all night that actually feels like going out all night. After a few seconds of tripping over their own shoes like a clumsy fade-in from the previous number—an illusion, as it’s the opening track on the album—the bass and drum settle into a casual, undemanding beat just a shade slower than the factory setting 120 BPM. It’s a dance number for the second wind, a groove that ignores the feet in favor of the hips and shoulders, for when your body is flagging but isn’t ready to surrender. The mix doesn’t bother with anything that wouldn’t be heard above a drunken crowd, and the lyrics stay resolutely on-topic and content-free. (Online lyric aggregators insist the male voice is telling us we’re “dancing in the vulva,” which I have no basis of confirming or denying, but it’s certainly the sort of thing I’d think I’m hearing over the loudspeakers when I’ve had a few.) This is the song playing in the background while you’re leaning over three obnoxious strangers at the bar, trying to order the next round. It’s the soundtrack for only the mildest of regrettable decisions.
But what’s most striking is the way the song makes me not only imagine hearing it out in the wild, but imagine the moments after it’s over. I have an ongoing feud with producers who scoop on the reverb like pancake syrup, but here the echo sounds like cheap speakers and pushed-aside sleep, from that stretch of the night when the noise and clamor and alcohol congeal into a sensory fog that forces you to squint your ears to hear what your friends are saying. The best part, though, of that dull blanket of sensation is the moment when you open the door and step out into that crisp night, drawing that first breath of uncompromised oxygen and drinking in the feeling of a world where sounds are coming from over there somewhere and not, it seems, directly from your own skull. That’s the gift of being up all night, that emergence through the other side of it, and unlike the hair metal party rockers of the world, SAULT treasure their time dancing with you, before bidding you a warm good night as you step back into into your own world.
Title: Up All Night