POPOFF! RETRO REVIEWS PART 2: THE MELANCHOLY

This is the album that initially started this whole 3 album journey. I had only intended to review this one album but when I end up doing a TMI interview for Soundwaves Melissa Etheridge came up and so I had to go back to that album and found they were both from 1993 so decided to do a more expansive take on these albums and my own biography at that time. And I like doing things in groups of threes so I found a third album from 1993 to round it all out.

When I originally went to review this album I listened to it three times straight through while cleaning house and writing other things. I am now on my fourth venture as I write this. I am trying to find the entryway here. “Dreams” is one of my favorite 90’s songs and may be one of my favorite songs period. I knew the other big single “Linger” but that was it back in 1993. And that upbeat swirl of, “Dreams”, and bittersweet symphony of, “Linger” do not exemplify how the rest of the record behaves.

The first thing I notice is the album as a whole has a bit of a drifting haunt to it. The ache upfront of Yes I Am is replaced with a sonic blankets that feel more like ruminating in one’s bedroom or heart chamber alone. And now having been to Ireland this tone makes so much sense. It is similar to sounds on The Joshua Tree album by U2, especially “With Or Without You”.

You feel the gray skies, the green, and high cliffs. You wouldn’t get this kind of sound from an American or Canadian band. The songs more or less maintain a consistent tone much like the aforementioned foggy weather just hanging about.

Also of note is that the average track length is 3:20 with many tracks landing under 3 minutes (a couple barely over two minutes. The longest tracks being the two singles.

“Dreams” is the second track and comes on the heels of the low key opener, “I Still Do” like a burst of sun rays piercing the clouds. Where the first song hints at codependency and both loving and hating somebody, “Dreams” it is the ultimate, I think I’m falling for you, rush.

Again, it is the outlier in tone. And it is not until Waltzing Back with it’s 3/4, the fifth track, that we get another jolt of strong energy. Lyrically all the songs up to now are filled with questions; What they gonna do?, Who gave them the right?… They are also filled with concerns about lovers and whether they will stay or go. Or whether we should let out hearts fly or protect them preciously. On this fourth listening the push and pull of uncertainty around love and relationships is more apparent and definitely the overall thematic through line on this album.

When we get to track six, “Not Sorry”, all that love rush that came with the song, “Dreams” is gone. Whatever spark and hope had been injected or ingested has left the body.

But I’m not sorry if I do insult you
I’m sad, not sorry ’bout the way that things went
And you’ll be happy and I’ll be forsakin’
I swore I’d never feel like this again
But you’re so selfish
You don’t see what you’re doing to me

And then we hit the other single, lucky track seven, “Linger”.

This track has the most lush production with opening and backing string arrangements. And again it is another song dealing with being in love with somebody who is not really in love with you. It is maybe the most haunting cut on the record and the most “90s” sounding. Along with “Dreams” and “Not Sorry” it is also the most direct and pointed lyrically. And at this point the overall back and forth of love themes on the album start to make me think, Girl… he’s just not that into you. Get a therapist.

As the album goes on so does the repetitive back and forth in the mind and between lovers about love and relationships. And honestly that starts to get dull. This might explain why I wasn’t connecting on the first three listens because it just doesn’t go anywhere new or find a new angle on the same issue. This album is only 12 tracks but I think maybe cutting out 2-3 would’ve served it better. But as it stands this is one of the ultimate co-dependent love albums of all time.

“Still Can’t” in the album’s later half is one of the stronger tracks on the album with the driving drum line. And repetition of the lyric Nothing At All real starts to sound like a person who is lovesick but also so stuck in their own head and their in their own way to the point they can’t move on.

Track ten, “I Will Always” brings back the 3/4 time and with the lines

And now it’s all the same to me
So be whatever you want to be
Go wherever you need to go

feels like a final resignation and coming to terms with the relationship really being over. Except, we have two more tracks! The last track on the album, “Put Me Down” is gorgeous but it plops us right back in the world of codependency. It is a lovely song and one of the more memorable on the record but feels out of track order. I say, “I Will Always” should’ve been the last song to end on a hopeful note of healing.

“Dreams” is still a favorite all time song *smashes replay button*. And “Linger” definitely hits the nostalgia button more these days. But overall the album could’ve used some editing in track choices to make it tighter and honestly a lot of the lyrics sound like stuff I heard in my beginning poetry classes in college. The kind of stuff high school students write in diaries because they think that being vague makes it more universal but it actually just makes it vague and less emotionally resonating. Now that SOUNDS bad, and it certainly isn’t good, but the way some lines that get repeated definitely does drive home the confusion, the angst, the sadness of a toxic relationship the album seems to be going for. But being too vague kind of just leaves it all floating aimlessly like… well… fog. And yes, song lyrics and poetry are different and sometimes they cross over. But song lyrics usually have music behind them to lift and aid where the lyrics are lacking. But often times I found both to be lacking. Also missing in this, is anger. But true anger would’ve killed the mood I guess because this album isn’t about that. As I said this is a codependents diary. They have not reached the acceptance of anger stage yet.

The album title Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We makes me wonder if this whole record was a sort of play on all the moody alternative dirges folks were putting out at the time. As if to say, Oh you think your are somber and dour well listen to this! And so here I am having listened to this four times and you know what- I wanted to like it more than I do. And that’s fine. You can not like things, you know. AND you can not like things without making apologies or qualifiers every other paragraph for not liking them. And I like some stuff here but not others and I think you will too.

TASTY TRACKS:
Dreams
Linger
Still Can’t…
Waltzing Back
Put Me Down

This is part of a 5 part series exploring my connection to music of my youth, specifically three albums from 1993. So click and album and let’s get to it.

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