Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It's an easy thing to do, as you advance in age, to almost completely forget about what it used to be like when every relationship you got yourself into was retrospectively declared, by you and everyone who was a witness to it, a mistake. The definition of a mistake, in this light, can be summed up as any relationship that didn't stick. It's just any relationship that stopped itself with a hearty pulled plug and a cold shoulder by one or more of the interested parties. You gave a number of them a try - as everyone does when they're young men and young women, or old men and old women - and there were many preliminaries that are now just accepted for their many failings and appreciated as content to be recited over drinks and unproductive, though amusing, reminiscence. It's an easy category for most relationships to fall into and as This Providence front man Daniel Young sings on "Sand In Your Shoes, "When you're only eighteen and you've got nothing to lose," it's easy to fall into love. You want to and you must. You just get swept up in the phenomenon of being interested in others romantically and in having others find you interesting romantically or pseudo-romantically, cause it's rarely the real deal. All of the episodes are charged with foolishness and giggles that somehow turn comically serious and then there's trouble because the kids finally see the mistakes for what they are. One of the involved always starts gasping for some fresh air and some space and soon we see the fun come to an end.
This Seattle four-piece lets itself get caught in the grips of the study of this ever-developing saga of trying on people like clothing. It makes a point to refer occasionally, to this act of young love as a sale of a soul to the devil - and it's a willing act of bartering. There's hell to pay and there's hell paid as the young lovers are faced with such sourness on the group's latest album, "Who Are You Now?" an album that peels back the many familiar layers of the idea of love falling flat on its face while still holding some sort of spell over the participants. Young sings, "As long as hell is burning, I'll still want you back," on the short opener, "Sure As Hell," and it sounds and feels like such a rational thought that a green romantic would entertain and be consumed by. It would be the line that he would use as a personal meditation or prayer/promise - this undying dedication to another as if there were no other possible outcomes to be had, no other possible companions good enough or suited so well. It's this wayward line of thinking that essentially leads to the best emo-pop music and This Providence are quite good at it, melting together this desperate longing, these burning desires and all of the problems that they attract into big hooks and huge guitars. It doesn't matter that all that's sung is unhappily finished, messy and bruised, for it bears a sweetness, as Young reminds us, "We were lost, but happy. It's not emotion baby, it's just my imagination."