“I think I saw you in my sleep, darling. I think I saw you in my dreams; you were stitching up the seams on every broken promise that your body couldn’t keep…”
Commitment is a powerful and consuming action. There comes a point with any long-term situation where you forget exactly how you got there. It’s at this point in time where the idea that something different could lie beyond it in the future is well beyond the grasp of the imagination. It happens with many things: it’s the reason college seniors stick with a major they can’t stand; it’s the reason people can continue to pledge genocide against a group of which they’ve never interacted; it’s the reason decades of violence cannot sweep a wounded city completely off its’ feet. But above all these cases of commitment, there is one which is supposed to serve as the supreme benchmark of a relationship: marriage. However, the ideal that marriage is supposed to last for a lifetime (or beyond) is often challenged by reality.
“There is nothing you can do to save it, to make it breathe the way it did when you were sliding on the ring; trust me, it’s gone for good.”
And there is the main subject of the album: a quickly crumbling marriage. It was a marriage that lasted through fights, the raising of children, and the tumultuous aging process. And while the woman cares deeply for the man, her new encounter and realization of the fear that controls her husband causes their once strong and endearing relationship to fall apart much quicker than it came together. The woman abruptly falls away from the past, but the man dwells in it. At many points he thinks the relationship will work again, and at other times he knows it will never will. He never fully understands what exactly caused her to fall away from everything they built throughout the years, but with time he reaches a point of compromise with himself.
“If I can’t love you as a lover I will love you as a friend. And I will lay a bed before you to keep you safe until the end.”
Although it seems this compromise would be simple and easy to reach, the many methods the band uses to describe the protagonist’s pummeling match with this reality proves quite the opposite. The songs can switch from a slower, more thoughtful passage to a speedy and dissonant section depending on the man’s emotions and state of mind. And the vocals change with these as well; they’ll range from peaceful spoken word, a desperate cry of anguish and unfairness, and an angry, bitter scream dwelling on the past and present. The music itself has a strong base in post-hardcore with experimental aspects and even holds a song with a fairly strong country influence (“Andria”). While the majority of the album is somewhat heavy and guitar focused, the instances where the band focuses on the small intricacies (precise, light cymbal hits; steel guitar; group vocals; clapping) will send the listener straight into the story. It’s these intricacies which deeply connect with the well-thought out lyrics (analogies and metaphors abound) and give the entire album a very human feel. The themes presented here are anything but pleasant, yet the listener will not be discouraged by this album.
“Though we are not sure who we are we keep our heads up. Though we are not sure where we’re from we keep our hearts up. Though we are not sure when we’ll leave we keep our heads up. Though we are not sure where we’ll go we keep our hopes up.”
It is with these proclamations that the protagonist finds himself stepping back from his past and realizing he must keep living. The dissolving of their marriage was devastating; however, it would be irresponsible and unfulfilling to let it control the rest of his life. There is bound to be something to replace its significance in the near future. The commitment was wonderful, and the infidelity does little to rob from the lessons of it.
“So fill your hearts with what’s important and be done with all the rest.”