Review Summary: We're only happy when we turn out the lights
January’s breath hits you right in the face and fills up your entire body. You cautiously open your eyes, the bright snow filters in, and you remember that everything has just changed. You’re a fawn in the woods and you slept through the forest fire. You are a child, you are completely frigid, and you are empty. The opening track fades in while you repeat the words “everything feels better now” until you forget what that even means.
Everything Feels Better Now
doesn’t show up to fill in the cracks of a life that just shattered like an entire china collection on display, but rather wraps its arm around your shoulder, starts walking, and says “same.” Just like you, these tracks wander around in the cold while that final little ember struggles to keep itself aglow. Maybe you are made whole by the time we get to the end, or maybe you say the words you need to and then sink into the earth. Either way, it’s therapy. And it all needs to be said. This album is just as much a conclusion to one story as it is the introduction to a new one.
“Happy Machines” is that winter air that woke you up. The verse knocks your teeth in – not that you could feel it – and in response, the chorus grabs you by the arm, pulls you up, and brushes the dirt off your shirt. Just in time for the next verse to elbow you in the jaw and send you back on your ass. “The Monster” is a recognition of the thought patterns that twisted your stomach for months and led you down to the basement of your mind where you now sit and stir. But at least you’re finally acknowledging it. “Feel Love” is that nice day when you woke up and miraculously didn’t feel like roadkill. Even the sun made a brief appearance for the first time in weeks. The feeling was gone before lunch, but it was enough to sustain you till next month.
Every song is given a set of wings and takes on a dream-like quality. Some confidently lift themselves up into the clouds, others drift toward car wrecks and cemeteries in the evening hours. But all throughout is the persistent ethereal fog that alternates unpredictably between inviting and menacing. And that’s what progress is, after all. Progress is nonlinear, and it acts about as erratically as the weather in the Midwest. You followed a path towards acceptance for weeks, or even months, and in a single moment all of your progress vanishes and you’re right back where you started. The painful reminders circle your head like flies as you stare aimlessly at the souvenirs and artifacts of something that failed. “Nome” is that night you got in your car and drove in silence for about an hour when you suddenly realized your progress was fake and January never really ended.
Sometimes I forget how this ends. The closing track, “Rid of It,” is not one that feels good to revisit. Of course, it’s not supposed to. It’s not supposed to feel good walking out of your childhood home for the last time. It’s not supposed to feel good embracing a person who was your best friend just two hours earlier. How can you be expected to hit ‘play’ on that last track, to write the final chapter of the book you didn’t want to finish, or to shut the back door knowing that it permanently locks the moment you close it? I’ve listened to these words and melodies more times than I could count over the past two years, and I still don’t know what I’m supposed to be “rid of.” Maybe when I figure it out, I’ll revisit that song. And I’ll hear it in a new way.
“Everything feels better now,” they told me to say.