Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Danny Reisch at Good Danny's, Austin, Texas
The way that things tend to go is that you go through those often painful stages of puppy love and of getting your heart broken weekly by the next pretty little thing, or the smart little thing in your class that you just can't get your mind off of. You receive the glimpses that feel as if they were loaded with all sorts of unspoken spells. The stories that you created in your head were remarkably detailed and crafted such that you were convinced of their plausibility, of their authenticity to something that was actually real. You were the lead in a very dramatic and enthralling production of love at first sight, all until the walls and the ceiling came crashing down and you were sucker-punched right in the gut. There, doubled over, left without the breath that you came with, you wondered where you went wrong, moped for a few days and then found yourself suddenly cured of the yesterday girl blues, moving on to greener pastures and untapped wells. You go through those days and you grow up, into someone more confident, or at least unwilling to so frantically, so foolishly assume that anything in your existent or faked love life is going to turn out anywhere close to the way that you thought it might. You are more willing to accept some kind of a defeat, or simply place yourself into such vulnerable positions too often. You are willing to accept that those times are over and that you're running out of options. You're not getting any younger and rings are getting thrown around awfully frequently.
Forrest Kline, the lead singer of the Huntington Beach, California-based band Hellogoodbye, has some kind of a brilliant eye for these wholly innocent and charming matters of the heart, where the sparks and the sparkles could still be exchanged between two people. Neither of them have given up hope, put on love handles and let themselves go. It's hard to tell if we're listening to him as a younger man - now writing as a married man himself - or if these are lessons that he's learned over time and he's diagramming these storylines to now feel even fuller.
The songs on the band's exquisite 2010 album, "Would It Kill You?" are narratives that are nowhere near the flimsy things that anyone going through the emotions at the time would ever cut to. These are the developed stories that precociousness could never reach. These are the matters of the heart that have been battled through and they are coming from a man who has found what he's been looking for. These are the songs that you dance to at your wedding. If I were to do it all over again, I would hire Kline and his band to play my wedding and be our wedding photographers. I would pay them handsomely. We would have scrapped my wife and I dancing to "God Only Knows," not only for the hard-to-slow-dance-to break down before the loud bop-ba-bop-ba-ba-bahs and swells of ahs near the end, but because he could have better summed it up. And they would have taken the photographs at your wedding that you always wanted taken, but just never thought about it until you saw someone else's wedding photos and realized that they got it right. Hellogoodbye gets the joy of life and the true joy of irresistible love undeniably right.
* Essay originally published January, 2012