Adjective Battleship

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a group called Little Dragon and how my friend Greg’s 5-word description of their song “Ritual Union” — he called it “alien Motown in the snow” — made such a fantastic and indelible impression that my enjoyment of the song went through the roof. Listen to the song here. He’s totally right, right? I know!

Well, Greg came up with the awesome idea of trading these types of descriptions back and forth (an idea I promptly militarized*, being a dutiful son of Norfolk, VA) and after we traded a few emails about how fun this would be, the joys of structured creativity and about Spin’s new Twitter reviews, which aim, with no small amount of chutzpah in my opinion, to sum up and rate new albums in 140 characters or fewer, Adjective Battleship was born!

While you won’t find any star-based or scale-of-1-to-10 ratings below, I hope these descriptions, or “unread footnotes to a haiku” as Greg put it, will help you find something in these songs to latch onto and love, as happened for me with “Ritual Union.” Before we get started, here are the rules, as ratified by the two contestants.


  1. Each player nominates 3 songs.
  2. Each player provides a description comprised of up to 5 words, not all of which actually have to be adjectives, for all 6 songs.
  3. There is no time limit on composing descriptions.
  4. The player who compiles the descriptions for posting purposes cannot look at the other player’s descriptions before finalizing his or her own.
  5. There is no winner, just congratulatory high-fives for a game well played.

As for listening strategies — that’s entirely up to you. Song then description, description then song, song then description then song… do whatever floats your boat. Without further ado, let the battle commence!

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When all is said and done, and the robots turn off broadcast television so we’ll be more productive slave-laborers, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia will likely end up being one of my favorite shows of all (pre-robot apocalypse) time. It takes the “every single major character is reprehensible” premise that Seinfeld popularized to new and amazingly scummy lows, creating a moral vacuum that’s equal parts hilarious and cathartic. I seriously walk away from each episode thinking, “Thank god those people don’t actually exist in real life,” and by extension, “Thank god I’ll never be that horrible of a person.” There may be no better illustration of what I mean than the scene pictured above — Mac and Dennis dressed in camo, drinking Coors Light in a cardboard box in the middle of a city sidewalk, hunting a homeless man named Cricket. It’s so messed up that it’s absurd… but it’s also really, really funny. And I have no way of proving this, but I have a sneaking suspicion Brooklyn-based band Chairlift saw this episode and took notes, because they’ve damn near written its score. “Sidewalk Safari” paints an unreal picture of exacting vengeance on a pedestrian, starting with the line “All of the bones in your body are in way too many pieces for me. Time to do something about it, if you know what I mean.” It’s totally creepy but extremely well-acted by lead singer Caroline Polachek, and I can’t stop listening to it. I don’t know if I love it so much because of the Always Sunny episode, or because its absurdity provides a similar catharsis, but I applaud Chairlift for making a catchy song that has you bobbing your head while Polachek sings about running someone down with a car, and I dare you not to let a wry smile slip when you check it out below. If you dig “Sidewalk Safari,” you can click here to pre-order their upcoming album Something, which will be released on January 24.

Chairlift — “Sidewalk Safari