Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The Lover! songs, as Rich Crook sings them on this stripped down session, make you imagine a man leaning against a shed out in back of a bunkhouse, somewhere out near the rural county line, with a cattailed pond at the bottom of a slope, smoking a cigarette down to the filter or further and then dismissively flicking it out into the yard. He turns slowly, having just stared a hole into some sort of nothingness, preoccupied with personal demons and pissy thoughts that keep him obsessed with numbing agents and the amount of the time he's not able to fish because he's gotta work a shitty job to pay the bills, all the while still getting ignored or shit upon himself by nearly everyone whom he's in contact with. He's a man who wrestles with being uncomfortable with other people not recognizing their own deficiencies and also with cutting them some slack, because he's not a bad man - or at least, he used to be a much nicer man not all that long ago. He's a man who wrestles with the most compelling and intriguing mental dramas that get staged in every single mind - most are just covered up like crud with a rug or ignored altogether, given no notice of their importance or their meanings. Like some of the smallest, weakest looking weeds poking up through the cracks in a sidewalk or disrupting a clean lawn, these disturbances of the straight-lined picture, have roots that stretch into the soil half a foot or more and you need a strong grip, both feet planted and a board for a back to uproot them. They are like pine tar on the hands, a brush against the sapped up side of a tree's trunk and washing away that dirtiness, the darkness that can't just be riddled or tossed, is almost impossible. It's where Lover! songs take us, into the depths of these post-traumatic stress disorders, into the heads of warring messes - men who have actually seen military combat and are scarred for life and men who only know the fights here on the home front, away from artillery and bullets, but always in point-blank range of hundreds and hundreds of other people - and we get to experience these flings with something close to the madness that bangs them around. We get to experience the direness that Crook brings to these almost punk rock pinings for things to just not be so fucking hard, for once, and for things to not be so fucking bitter to swallow, for chissakes.