房東的貓, or The Landlord’s Cat is a folk duo comprised of two young 24-year-olds, singer 小黑 and guitarist少年佩, who met in university in Wuhan.
Having been quietly active in their campus scene since 2012, they gained popularity after covering 【斑馬斑馬】by 宋冬野, thought by many to have gained a whole other life from the original, and released their own single, 【秋釀】 that year.
Early songs were recorded on their phone and released onto the internet, making it difficult for listeners like me to navigate their discography, scattered in singles all over the place.
In early 2017, they released 【美好事物】, their first official album, which collects a lot of the tracks they’d written over the years into one place.
你看 秋月溫柔撕破了花瓣 you watch the autumn moon gently rip up flower petals
卻只為 迎著暮冬大雪紛飛時貪玩 yet play madly to meet the swirling winter snow
你說要忘卻所有不愉快的片段 you tell me to forget the parts that have made me unhappy
把美好事物純真的走完 and finish walking the pure simplicity of good things
What I love most about indie acoustic folk is that it sets complex poetry to a simple melody. The Landlord’s Cat are fantastic at this lyrical play, ranging from dreamy, languid landscapes, to doleful, melancholy interiorities.
往往失去的 往往知疏離 often what is lost, is often intentional distance
聽膩電臺裡同類沉湎唏噓 i tire of hearing the same indulgent lament over the radio
直到故事啊 走到來不及 until the story has been walked till too late
望塵土揚起 聽海浪止息 to see the dust rise and hear the waves cease
When trying to translate these song lyrics, I often find myself puzzling over how to translate the image effect and mood of the lines more than their actual content, as constructing atmosphere is something this duo are particularly good at.
芭蕉雨夜的蟬聲 cicada sing in the rainy banana leaf evening
不知歸期的故人 friend of mine whose day of return is unknown
夜夜抒情的晚風 the sentimental wind every night
叫醒睡夢的鳶尾 wakes the dreaming iris
孤悄如你的縈迴 loneliness like your lingering presence
逐年把雲苔剪碎 year after year cuts the rapeseed into pieces
靜看徬徨的煙霏 像你多變不可追 i quietly watch the anxious smoke fog, as fickle and impossible to follow as you are
Singer 小黑’s voice comes across as liquid sunshine or cold breeze depending on the guitar surrounding her. This malleability allows an expansive expressiveness despite the repeated simplicity of the folk genre throughout their repertoire.
流年似水經過 years like waters pass,
阿芙羅蒂從浪花裡浮現 Aphrodite surfaces from the waves
淡淡地愛著海流山川 loves lightly the ocean currents through mountains
全心全意愛另一座冰山 loves with everything an iceberg
想變成天上忽明忽暗的雲朵 i want to be a dappled cloud cover in the sky
想吃掉世上最美味的一切 i want to eat all that is delicious in this world
一想到你呀我這張臉就泛起微笑 when i think of you, a smile flickers onto my face
With such a solid first album, The Landlord’s Cat will hopefully, like all folk music, improve with age and life experience. May they retain the simplicity of this first album, and grow increasingly nuanced in perspective.