Review Summary: letting go
Tomorrow's my 21st birthday. When I was 11, I got a hand-me-down boombox with a few extra CDs an older sibling was getting rid of. Two of the CDs were slightly altered, scratched copies of Songs About Jane
and It Won't Be Soon Before Long
. I liked music up to that point, but I wasn't really interested
in it until I started playing these albums. From that point on, I was obsessed. Music fanaticism was my first real hobby, and the only one that stuck with me. There were so many questions I had about the world at that age, confused about why the things that made me happy throughout my childhood were no longer making me happy, how I was supposed to find an identity in a world where everything was lined up for me, and what it meant to be a human being. Listening to this music, full of emotions, helped me feel so much better about all of it. "She Will Be Loved" is the first song I cried to, "Makes Me Wonder" taught me what the f-word was, and I listened to "Can't Stop" when I was mad at my parents. I didn't realize how important these moments were to my development until much later. They would have happened regardless, I would have felt those things to a different tune, but I like what these ones did for me.
When I was young, I felt like time slowed down to a complete crawl at times. Now, those moments are rare, but I remember feeling like a year was the longest time span imaginable. Comprehending a decade would have blown me away then, but now it's normal. I don't know how I waited all the way for their third album. It was for the best, because in the meantime I got super into other music, getting a small mp3 player for Christmas with a radio record function which I used to learn all the pop I could. In 2010, Hands All Over
finally came out, and I didn't care that much. "Misery" and "Stutter" were good, but I knew enough other music at that point that it wasn't important to me. I'd moved on, still trying to solve the problems that those two discs had awoken in me. Around Overexposed
, I was in a deeply transitional phase, trying as hard as I could to answer those questions and failing time after time. Years later, Red Pill Blues
dropped around the time that I realized the answer was that I didn't have to have one.
The academic side of me, told time and time again to have a thesis statement in the first paragraph and stick to it, keeps saying to put in the phrase "the point is." I don't really want to, because I don't know what the point is. I don't know why I've spent days writing about six albums when I only really care about 2 of them, and when the only new thing I have to say about any of it is that one of them is slightly underrated. I don't know why I saved all the personal stuff for the end, why I basically ignored what so much of this meant to me until the last second, and why I do the same thing with people who deserve better. I don't know what I have to say about this album specifically, there's nothing new to say I haven't said in my last three reviews, just like there's nothing new they're saying. It's just kind of there, with nine boring tracks, an incredibly short Lunchmoney Lewis verse and six minutes of noodling at the end of "Closure" to prove the band still exists. That's it. That's everything that changed. And the fact that nothing changed is why this, and so much of their work lately, is so hard to love. If I've changed for the better, it's hard for me to understand why they haven't even changed at all. Maybe it was commercial this whole time - maybe the only thing they cared about was the money behind it, and the passion in their origins was just correlated. Maybe I'm just falling into a nostalgia trap - maybe people born in 2007 who heard Red Pill Blues
as their first album find it just as compelling merely because they were born at the right time to soundtrack their adolescent woes with it. Maybe I'm just filling my life with meaningless questions to fill in a lack of purpose. I can honestly say that I don't know the answer to these questions, and I probably never will. But more importantly, I know now that I don't have to know. I think on the day before my 31st birthday, I'll have answered just as many questions and asked just as many new ones, and I hope that at that point I'll have just as much peace with that fact.