"Together Let's Ring in the New Year" / Motion City Soundtrack
I believe in recycling -- so much so that I'm recycling all of last year's New Year's resolutions, namely: 1. Cut out junk food. 2. Exercise more. 3. Blog more often.
In that spirit, here's a quick New Year's post. There aren't a whole lot of New Year's themed songs on my playlist -- mostly it's just two songs from Motion City Soundtrack's 2006 album Commit This To Memory. The other one, "Resolution," is way too depressing, so I'm opting for "Together We'll Ring in the New Year." (And once you listen to this one, you'll say, "The other one was more depressing?")
I dunno, though, I don't find this track a downer. Maybe that's because I feel the same way about the forced hilarity of New Year's parties. Motion City Soundtrack does slacker alienation better than almost anybody I can think of, and our protagonist starts off in medias res, sitting in a corner bummed out. "This must be it, welcome to the new year / The drinks are consumed, the plants are destroyed / And the hors d'oeuvres dismantled." Talk about setting a scene -- haven't you been to that party, a hundred times over? I love how the monotonous guitar strum simulates the drone of party chatter, how the melodic line rambles aimlessly, the lyrics not even bothering to rhyme.
"I'm not smiling / Behind this fake veneer," he sings, his voice soaring upward in a wistful yelp. Granted, our guy is not the life of the party -- he can barely hold his own in the conversation ("I am often interrupted or completely ignored"), and it's beginning to wear on him. He feels so distanced, it's like he's a different species -- "These humans all suck," he mutters (dig the vernacular) -- and he bitterly declares, "I'd rather be home feeling violent and lonely." That to me is just a great line, the way it encapsulates this guy's misery. Later on when he realizes, way late, that the woman he's been chatting up is wearing a wedding ring, it's an apt ending to another rotten holiday.
Another band -- They Might Be Giants, for instance, or Bare Naked Ladies -- might play this all for comedy. But the intriguing thing about MCS is that they truly respect alienation and social dislocation. (It helps that lead singer Justin Pierre has one of the most angsty voices in indie rock.) There's genuine poignancy in that chorus, "I'm trying to find out if my words have any meaning / Lackluster and full of contempt / And it always ends the same." All he wants is a little human contact. Is that so wrong? (And yes, ladies -- we know we'd be different, we'd be the cute girl who finally pays attention to that scruffy-but-sensitive loser.)
All this is apropos of nothing, I suppose -- I successfully avoided this sort of New Year's celebration this year, and I hope you did too. But still, there's something about that momentous and yet artificial flip of the calendar page that always makes me feel . . . well, violent and lonely. Basically all it means is that I have to remember to date my checks with a different number (what a pain). Beyond that, what has really changed?
Okay, I guess it is cool that today's date is 1/1/11. That'll be good for a few more hours, and then what?
Hmmm --- maybe I need some junk food after all...