Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Jamie Wagner at Strobe Recording
When it comes down to it, we're all just these quivering bags of guts and bones, sure that we're going to be found out sooner rather than later. We're not going to make it into the next month without being exposed as a fraud. There must be someone out there who knows that we don't mean everything we say and that we often toy around with love, just to get a little something. There must be someone or something out there who can tell that we are feverish when we pretend to be cool, who can hear our snarky and often mean thoughts, as if they were coming out as chatter over a police blotter. Those of us who like to claim our kindness as out attire, who like to believe that there is something worthwhile and valuable to mine for within our chests, know that we have our tendencies and we could quickly turn. Most of us don't and will never turn, or let those thoughts and those eerie urges leak out like darkened yolk. We'll keep it all in. Actually, we're all very good at behaving pleasantly and treating our loved ones well, but there are still minor destructions that take place that get turned into wonderful prose and lyrics.
Bad Books, the band that Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull and Kevin Devine have been coming back to for a few years now - when they're not busy with their main projects - cuts us into these detailed reflections of what all of this psychological warfare comes down to. These are the battles that we wage, in our unending search for beauty, true love, more beauty and a good place to rest our spinning head. Hull and Devine present to us all of these folks who find that they're walking around most days with untied shoelaces and yet they rarely trip. They mostly make out decently. They make their mistakes. They see their poor decisions cough repulsively into their faces, but the good times overwhelmingly sill find them.
They sing here on "It Never Stops," "Just a copy after copy til the color washed out/I bet the future on an ice cream cone/Kept it secret til I took you home/The days split to two sides/I flipped a quarter, said I can't decide/Honey, it never stops/The leaves laughed/The bed burned/I know I want you but I'm waiting my turn/Honey, it never stops/No, it never stops," and what we can't help but hear is a doomed, unrequited love, an unrequited life, in a way. Or else, this is just the way all life is. It is simply a way to keep us from getting complacent. It's having too many choices. It's having too many opportunities to fuck things up. It's having too little time. It's having a cottonmouth. It's dripping with sweat. It's not wanting to get out of bed to face the daunting drive to the next town, or to the office, or to the house of the person you love less than you used to love them, or worse, the house of the person who will never love you but will never tell you that. You still feel okay knocking at their door, or handing them some free ice cream.