Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Ian Metzger sings, "I haven't felt this way in a long time," on "Bad News" and then he sings it again and makes it pierce as if it's got to get out and then there's the thought that maybe this way of feeling is good or it's sarcastic or the recognition of it, the labeling of it is sarcastic. Then again, maybe it's not. Ah well, for now, Metzger's way is just a way for now and it's the manner in which he travels with the majority of the lyrics he writes for his band, Dear and the Headlights. He jerks the steering wheel sometimes into the ditch to sing about big epic emotions, but more often, he just let's his top hand trail off to the right, toward the radio station knob and the cigarette lighter, letting the car drift over and across the rumble strips meant to warn someone that they're veering off the safe path and getting precariously close to the ditch weeds and stray litter.
It's over there where things get interesting, using this thin strip of cement that rarely gets used unless an escape route is needed in the face of something bad or there's a need to get out of the way for an emergency vehicle - also meaning that something bad has occurred. Metzger and the rest of the band are great at giving a story the kind of soft and loud dynamics - the salt and the sugar, but also the mild and the fire hot - that the Pixies and Nirvana are celebrated for, though they provide them more in the way that Will Sheff and Okkervil River do, as if they were all there in the first place and these dynamic shifts just needed to be cleaned off, hosed down out front to get the mud removed, to remove the cast. It's not part of a formula, but an actual life force that comes of these trying times that get written about on Drunk Like Bible Times, the band's latest full-length.
Were Bible times more or less drunk? It seems that there were problems just as there are these days so the only difference might have been the tolerance levels, with those in the AC times able to take down more because the alcoholic potions were four times as potent or whatever number we can agree upon. They were drunker times, but the reasoning for getting pissed drunk hasn't changed. It's the same shit, just a different day. We hurt people and we get hurt by people. There's a continuous struggle to get by. Just that ambiguous getting by is a struggle. It can all be wiped out conversationally as inconsequential - these struggles - and we're wont to do that during this time of the year, when it's all about being thankful for what you do have, for taking inventory of the many blessings of friends and family that everyone has at least a few of.
It's the human collateral that slips through a lot of the Dear and the Headlights material, giving us a glimpse into the way that parallel lines often work when they're connected to two people, but seen without too much strain. We move and they move, equidistantly all the same and all the time and we're able to just observe that bigger picture. People work on themselves and they put a lot of time in at the shoppe, poring over the rough edges and even if they don't have blinders on, it's always tantamount. The parallel lines move - hello over there - until they're allowed to cross and bump and then it just causes more things to write about, more things to have to work out as the lamplight dims in the workshop. Dear and the Headlights guide us through the veins of these parallel lines and into these intersections with all of the skid marks streaked across the ground, fresh and hot to the touch.
Dear and the Headlights Official Site