Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


Mama, I'm Swollen

04/09/2009 | | | Album Review
The lights blur outside a window smudged nearly opaque with innumerable years\' worth of grime. I peer through tags and crude phrases scratched into the plastic pane and make out signs for streets that are foreign to me; a seemingly never-ending succession of right angles that remain unconnected. A steady stream of passengers boards the bus at each stop, filling in the empty spaces vacated by those who have reached their terminus. I\'m not so lucky as to have a destination; I got on this bus somewhere and eventually I will get off of it. For the time being I look out the window at the crowded and dirty streets of my new home and think about where I just left. And more than anything else, who I left. \"Your so naive, but it comes off so cute\" plays through the headphones and I know it\'s for the best, but rationalization is no comfort for a broken heart. I can\'t remember the bus ever turning and it seems that this street must run forever.

Back then, the cool winds blew across rosy faces warmed by alcohol and laughter. Taking the darkened back streets, we walked confidently with our beers obviously concealed in tattered paper bags. Before entering the bar we sat around the corner, finishing the drinks, our backs against the dirty wall of a warehouse closed up for the night. The familiar bouncer flashed us a smile and let us in for free, the cover charge freed up for cocktails made from cheap liquor. We were tottering as the band came on, melting into a crowd of likewise fans, everyone caught up in the camaraderie of excitement and anticipation. We swayed and shouted along, knowing that the next day the night would exist only as a hazy recollection, like a story someone told us so long ago that recalling it now makes it seem like it happened to us. The songs were full of meaning and memories and we were a bit sad as the music trailed out and was overtaken by the din of people rushing to the bar for one last drink or squeezing through the lone doorway into the cold night.

Years later, a friend and I show up to another venue almost as an afterthought. There are other things to do and places to go, but we figure we can catch the opener and split before the evening really gets underway. We stand in the back, too sober and disinterested, griping about the cost of the plastic cups of beer and cracking jokes about those we\'ve singled out in the audience. I can barely see the band, the sound is terrible, but it doesn\'t matter much because I don\'t know these songs. Those that I would now refer to as \"kids\" stand rapt, mouthing words, and appearing like some sort of denim-clad, messed hair acolytes. The set\'s not over, but we\'re out the door, heading to the train and our next destination, the past hour tossed off and soon to be forgotten.

Now I\'m walking home from work, somehow indifferent to the warm twilight of a new spring. People loiter on their stoop or sit on spread blankets in the park, content to be outside, enjoying the weather. I take these things in, but they fail to register. Like a silent witness, I pass through but feel disconnected from this general contentment. Amidst this detachment a song comes into my ears and ceases my wandering thoughts. I know the voice, familiar like a friend\'s from the past. I smile as my mind drifts back, sorting through the memories the band recalls. Suddenly things don\'t feel so hopeless and I\'m reassured that, no matter how bleak things are, they will inevitably get better. I miss the days of hanging on the singer\'s every word, and it is nice to know that he is still making beautiful music for the sorrowful.

8 out of 10.
Mama, I'm Swollen

Mama, I'm Swollen

LP / CD / MP3