Review Summary: “it was one of those uneventful times that seem at the moment only a link between past and future pleasure, but turns out to be the pleasure itself.” -F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Threaded throughout Peripheral Vision
are speculations on desire: what was a past relationship’s significance? Will being in love be enough for me? What does a new relationship portend to be? Grandfathered into the record’s fabric is an immediate sense of nostalgia - a longing for what was, what might’ve been, what might never be. It stands on the precipice between romantic hope and cathartic fantasy; sunbathing in those sweet nothings from a girl in the crowd who you now can only access through memory.
Some albums are inextricably linked to personal experiences; times in one’s life that somehow a record hold the mnemonic keys to. This happens to be one of mine. While there is something fundamentally American about Peripheral Vision
, a hazy mid-west milieu I can only obliquely grasp at (there are shades of American Football here, I am certain), for me Peripheral Vision mapped perfectly onto the balmy nights of an Australian summer, the record somehow tapping into such memories of post-adolescent romanticism that coloured my life at the time.
The record’s tunnel-vision for tortured intimacy is undeniable, sharing all the thematic hallmarks of pop-punk/emo bands such as Turnover’s label mates or rather the scene at large; but I cant help but feel here it’s done differently. Austin Getz's lyrics are imagistic, creative and daring. “Cut my brain into hemispheres / I want to smash my face until its nothing but ears / I want to paint my drain with a little red stain tonight” is a shockingly dark admission to pair with ‘Take My Head’’s cutesy guitar refrain and warm fuzzy palette. Elsewhere, he coins phrases that typifies the heady 20-something depressive populating metal shows every weekend - “adolescent dreams / gave to adult screams ... just another dream that’s better than my life.” Centre stage though are ruminations on companionship and confounded social anxieties - “With you tonight, I know that I can make out / With you I can make it out alive.” Getz taps into the magic of desire and longing, the accession of requited love and the lulls in between.
The record succeeds because of its consistency; each song glows with the lilt of a soft synth or reverb decay frozen through the grills of Getz’s Roland Chorus. Nothing here is too adventurous, in fact the bands enthusiasm for easy-listening has led to successive lesser records which simultaneously amplify and cloud Peripheral Vision’s triumph of longevity. The balance of the record is fantastic considering how awkward plucky clean-channel fenders can sound (watch the live versions of these songs for a comparison).
When reflecting back on our lives, it often seems opportune to wash away the trials and regrets, the anxieties and setbacks, only leaving a stained glass mirage to peer through. It’s fitting that Peripheral Vision
’s opening lines sets the record up to be a vessel of nostalgia. Perhaps a worldwide pandemic has led me to reflect on times when this record soundtracked my life, kicking back at gigs and opening shows for bands much better than mine. Ultimately though, Peripheral Vision
has aged gracefully, serving to highlight feelings from a different era, however hazy and silhouetted they may eventually be.