This Just In: QTY Shines in “Ornament”

QTY © Danny North
QTY © Danny North

Struggle is universal, and yet few people are unapologetically open about it. Our innermost tribulations are normally overshadowed by our need to get on with certain tasks, be efficient, put on a smile, and pretend everything is alright. “Ornament”, QTY’s brand new single and companion A-side to “Dress/Undress,” released today, explores one’s most vulnerable moments in a touching manner, and continues the streak of incredible singles released by the New York duo.

Washing one hand, cautioning wind, it’s a community where a handshake is gambling.
And hanging on, or what I meant, just want to be an ornament.

Listen: “Ornament” – QTY


For the first time, Dan Lardner and Alex Niemetz share the vocals at the start of the track. Their voices blend together seamlessly while they sing about insecurities. “A community where a handshake is gambling”  references not knowing who to trust, every greeting is a risk – you can win it all or lose it all. “Hanging on” shows that Lardner is making it through this difficult time, but only barely. It is in the image of the ornament where his insecurities move from being external (from the “community” in which he lives) to being internal. The ornament, and Lardner’s desire to be one, can be interpreted as him wanting to be ignored, like any ornament typically is after you first see it, or it may also show an inner wish to be as agreeable and pristine as ornaments are – they do no harm, are used to adorn some other object, and tend to be beautiful.

QTY © Danny North
Lending my keys out to a friend, it’s so much easier if you just let yourself in.
And hanging on, or what I meant, just want to be an ornament.

The first line touches on a theme that is common in QTY’s songs, friendship. Friendship is the cornerstone to QTY’s own existence, and it comes as no surprise that on a song about vulnerabilities and struggle, there are references to friends and letting people into your house and, simultaneously, your life.

Passing by, or being passed.
Throw a thing away, it’s overstayed, strayed the path.
I want it badly, but I can’t stay in one place.
I want hard candy, something sweet without the pain.

The chorus provides us with the song’s most heartbreakingly honest lyrics, where Lardner’s struggle becomes universal and the listener can empathize with QTY by remembering of moments when he or she went through a similar situation. “I want it badly, but I can’t stay in one place” shows the dilemma between wanting something and you getting in your own way of achieving it, while “I want hard candy, something sweet without the pain” shows the desire to have an experience that doesn’t require you to compromise your “something sweet” for “pain” – something that is purely good for you.

QTY © Danny North
Now that I am in a good place I want to escalate, every day a subtle change.
And hanging on, or what I meant, just want to be an ornament.

Niemetz takes charge of the second verse, and sings about recognizing when you’re in a position to try and make things better, not only with yourself but in various different aspects of your life, “every day” comes with “a subtle change”. Her voice is a soothing presence in a song about struggle, sounds better then ever before, and provides a change in dynamic while setting a lighter tone to the song.

Keeping your faith, got all the symptoms of a saint, still a community where the best men tend to break.
And hanging on, or what I meant, just want to be an ornament.

Lardner rejoins Niemetz and they sing about the moment when, despite you doing your best and seemingly having all signs point you towards the right direction, things don’t go your way. You’re  “keeping your faith”, following all the rules and being a good person (“got all the symptoms of a saint”), but it seems like you’re stuck in the same place you were before, after all, you’re “still” in “a community where the best men tend to break”.

I want so badly! But I can’t stay in one place.
I want hard candy! I’m afraid my teeth will break.

The next chorus has two added lines which happen to be the song’s last ones. “I want so badly!” changes little to the original line’s meaning, but intensifies the feeling behind it – especially because it is appropriately delivered in a scream-like manner rather than being calmly sung. Replacing “something sweet without the pain” with “I’m afraid my teeth will break” shows the fear one feels in thoroughly letting go and enjoying the “hard candy”, which is what Lardner uses as a metaphor for a good experience. After this line is delivered, Niemetz takes center stage and plays an incredible guitar solo that is a perfect example of her talent and skill and the song fades to a close. Not only that, it is a strong ending to a song about feeling weak, which ultimately shows us that Lardner, and consequently everyone who has been in his position, can overcome their difficulties and come out of tough situations even stronger.

The world needs more songs like “Ornament” – it has unashamedly vulnerable lyrics, but the music is confident and strong, and these two elements intertwine to make sure you are shown the best of QTY. Though Lardner’s honest and transparent lyrics are no surprise, there’s a vulnerability in “Ornament” that we have not yet come across in QTY’s other singles, and this is precisely what makes the song so necessary nowadays: it is not afraid of showing what it truly means to be human, and does not hide one’s insecurities or bury one’s flaws. It is practically impossible to listen to “Ornament” and not be moved by it, and this is a lesson in itself. In our interview with QTY last year, Lardner said “what you live is always enough” to make music, and QTY proves this point by making a beautiful song about living through uncomfortable moments and managing to overcome them. It can be said that “Ornament” is QTY’s strongest offering to date, and after a series of shows in New York, playing at SXSW last month, and having their debut album set for release later this year, QTY is definitely an act to watch out for in 2017.

Pre-order “Dress/Undress”/”Ornament” 7″ here

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'Dress/Undress'/'Ornament' - QTY

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cover © Danny North

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