1993 A journal of pre-weekend evenings, teen years, University rambling, hometown breaks and holidays. They are talented but feel the need to be sloppy, a deliberate smudge of grease on the face to show the car crash. Not that there aren’t vulnerability-glimpses, there’s plenty of those. How they’re crazy about a girl but don’t have that mixture of confidence and machismo necessary to win her. Hence What The Hell Are We Doing Here which will play everywhere because it’s a theme song. By the time this happens they’ll wish it hadn’t but it’s too late. Everyone sits alone at a party at some point. Their prickly president sings real good. Push him to the front.
1995 Holy crap, can they play guitar. Like loads of ‘em, more than you’d heard before, pedals galore! On the home front, they won a better girl but things haven’t changed much; it’s a different dissatisfaction. The kind that awakens slowly to reach out to the outside world while still firmly rooted in the head. You are starting to recognize yourself in what they do. Their singer makes you sing along to everything, about a face you keep seeing on the train, about self-sabotage, about being so affected that you are helpless, about being left behind, about wishing wishing wishing something would happen.
1997 EVERYBODY FREAKS THE FUCK OUT FOR A YEAR. EVERYBODY JUST FREAKS THE FUCK OUT. MAGAZINES MAGAZINES MAGAZINES. PHOTOS PHOTOS PHOTOS. ALIENATION AND THE INTERNET. BLACK SWAN THEORY AND DREAD. THEY HAVE NAMES NOW. YOU KNOW THEIR NAMES. COLIN, THE CHARMING DIPLOMAT. THOM, THE BIG BOSS WITH THE BIG VOICE. JONNY IS A SCIENTIST. PHIL PLAYS BOSSA NOVA PROG. ED MAKES SOUNDS LIKE LOCUSTS TRAVELING THROUGH TIME AT THE END OF A SONG AND YOU CAN’T HEAR IT WITHOUT EXPECTING THE COMPUTER VOICE STARTING ON THE NEXT ONE. THEY ARE SAVING SO MANY THINGS BUT LOSING EVERYTHING ELSE. END OF YEAR LISTS AND GUITAR MAGAZINE TABS. PROMO SPOTS AND 22-HOUR FLIGHTS AND MISSED CALLS AND BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH. TIRED. THEY NEED TO
2000 Stop. Your mom hates them now. You don’t know what to think. This is not what you were expecting. Where are the guitars? your guitar playing friends say. You are surprised to find you don’t care. You like them this way, in gauze and white, with the crisp smell of pine trees, hovering over everything. Rolling over and looking into the eyes of someone you love. Even when they are not there and maybe they never were but their outline is burned into the air. They know and you know that this one is going to last and even the guitar maniacs will recognize. Give it a few years.
2001 What? They had more songs. Some of them insanely good. Mostly it doesn’t quite fit together. Probably because there is no story this time around. You listen to it when you do the dishes. They take a break.
2003 Hear that? That’s the sound of their amps getting plugged in. That was a joke. You think. It’s got the tidy structured songs people have been expecting. They probably could have made this one shorter, in fact you make a pastime of rearranging the track listing and cutting the fat. The thing is, they have much to say. They have lots of anger at outside things and they’d like to draw your attention to them. But they’re further away from you now too, more themselves. They have children and houses. You have student loans.
2007 Wait at your computer, click through a few things and listen. You and everyone you know with a desk job. You will all hear the songs at the same time more or less. They want to make you happy, are you happy? They’re happy. Like the colors on the cover happy. They are going to record themselves doing these songs live so they can continue this party at odd hours. You will hear them doing songs they really, really love and fall in love again yourself. You realize that you’ve been listening to them long enough to not worry too much about what they’re saying.
2011 This one is shorter. They had ideas, mainly about deconstruction. You like the small moments of beauty coming through but are generally cool to the package. There’s an over reliance on beat first, you love this, but not on everything. You miss the theme, you think it’s barely there, a collection of thoughts or a list of interesting things. No problem, it doesn’t affect them. They just keep going, that’s what they do. Add one more to keep the tea civil and the beats fresh but basically stay the same. 5 + 1. A Friday afternoon after rain.