24. Walk Away Renee, The Left Banke

It is hard to think of another under-three-minute pop song that draws one more quickly or more surely into its ethereal world of lost romance. After years of rapt listening, I have only the vaguest idea what the singer is singing. Something about a “sign that points one-way” and “your name and mine inside a heart upon the wall,” clearly Rimbaud-like images that find a way to haunt us, though they’re so small. The lush orchestration never lets up: it starts at intense then, two-thirds through, there is a crescendo before the final verse that ratchets the angst even higher. But it is the ultra-nasal vocal that, finally, vaults Renee into the pantheon. In my mind’s eye I see the lead singer, fronting the string section with his mournful delivery, his heart breaking, his lips never moving.

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