Since U Been Gone

When I was younger, and had tasted little enough of misery to still find it alluring, I liked sad break-up music that was all about wallowing -- if you leave me I'll die; you're leaving and it's killing me; you've left and I'm dead. (I was really into Bright Eyes, obviously.) But now that I'm a little older, I prefer my break-up songs with a bit more pluck and gratitude. I'm not talking so much about the fuck-off to the ex, which still describes some sort of emotional depedency, as the total transcendence of same. I'm fine with the recrimination and righteous anger, but I'm more interested in the spiritual rejuvenation and self-reclamation.

Which is why Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" was among my favorite songs last year -- it created a palpable sense of the dying relationship as a crucible from which a stronger self emerges into crystal-clear relief. Here was solitude as a gift, not a curse, and the only wallowing that went on happened in the endless waters of personal agency. Now, with Frida Hyvonen's "You Never Got Me Right," Cat Power fans have a "Since U Been Gone" to call their own. The beautiful thing about "You Never Got Me Right," besides the immediate appeal of Hyvonen's voice, is that we get to see not just the risen phoenix, but the ashes from which it rises -- Hyvonen enacts the arc from uncertain self-blame to confident absolution, against music that's just as tenaciously faltering, in two euphoric minutes. (PS - If you don't want to drop 20-odd dollars on the import, Secretly Canadian is releasing the album domestically in a few months.)