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October 15, 2012 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Goodbye Teenage Angst

This column goes out to you soon-to-be-graduates, those of you leaving our hallowed halls at the end of the trimester. First and foremost: my sincerest congratulations! If you’re an English major like me, that means no more ‘in this essay I will elucidate’, the end of ‘for these reasons, x will be studied for some to come’, the close of ‘In conclusion’. That alone surely is worth celebrating.

Expect to be bombarded with platitudes couched in the guise of truisms. Some of them will be soppy and seemingly unrealistic. Others will be bleak. Man of melancholic disposition that I am, I was originally going to lean towards the latter; how potentially difficult the adjustment period will be, the tedium of adult life etc. But, quite frankly, fuck that. If I could offer any advice (my credentials you ask? I’VE ONLY WATCHED EVERY EPISODE OF FRASIER EVER (actually maybe I’m the one who needs help)), in the form of the cliché, it would be ‘the world is your oyster’. Chant it like a mantra. Apply it to a loofah and bathe yourself with it twice daily. The world is just as, if not more, open and ready for exploration as it was when you arrived here fresh-faced and as yet ungrizzled by academia. You’re winsome and witty and clever. Go and cause some mischief. Revel in life.

Think of these albums as faithful companions embarking on your adventures with you, tailor-made as they are for this particular stage of your life. Sympathetic ears when you’re down. When you’re up on the other hand, well; they’re the friends you get drunk with at parties who tell you that they love you and they’re glad and proud to know you, and you exchange a hug and everything feels good and suddenly you can do anything again.

Blink 182 – blink 182

The adage goes that there comes a time in everyone’s life where they have to grow up. But if anyone was to ever buck this trend, Tom Delonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker seemed like the most likely candidates. This is the trio of cheerful recalcitrants, after all, who penned an ode to ‘fuck[ing] a dog in the ass’, whose live performances featured nudity and antics involving genitalia that would put mah boi James Deen to shame. And yet grow up they did, and in what a fashion. This is made obvious from the outset. Sex is no longer something to joke about but a precious union; demises of relationships are felt and felt hard; the production is less sloppy and more, for lack of a better word, mature. There’s a reading of a letter Hoppus’ Granddad wrote his Grandma from WWII for fuck’s sake. Let the fuck-load of fun it sounds like they’re having while performing the best output of their career serve as comfort. Becoming ‘adult’ doesn’t necessarily result in tedium y’all.

Off minor – the heat death of the universe

Contrary to popular belief, I do not just listen to Animal Collective and Radiohead awash in misguided perceptions of superior taste; in fact, I devote one hour a week to ‘healthily’ branching out. These excursions are usually utterly insufficient; The Heat Death of the Universe is a happy exception. In all seriousness, for me this album was an entrance into the genre of Hardcore, and today it holds up as one of the genre’s greatest examples. Off Minor are a trio who have a knack for melding confrontational passages with sublime, jazz-tinged interludes. The calibre of musicianship on this album is enough to make any jazz aficionado self-lubricate/tumesce. Oh, and the song title ‘Staring Down The Barrel of Limited Opportunities’ is sure to resonate with us BA students. Haha (Oh God).

Jenny Hval – Viscera

I don’t think I’ve ever been as thrown by a lyric as I was with Jenny Hval’s beginning (and thus introductory) line: ‘“I arrived in town/ with an electric toothbrush/ pressed against my clitoris”. This is not typical singer-songwriter fare; sexuality is, more’s the pity, rarely treated with such brazen candour. Hval, however, lives to subvert expectations. She spends the course of the album exploring her notion of self, deconstructing her sexuality and her gender and attempting to reconcile it with what femininity is supposed to entail, how female sexuality is supposed to manifest. As such the record almost demands Feminist interpretation; more broadly, however, the album is about ‘finding yourself’ and coming to terms with inevitable disjoints between innate personality and societal expectation. Viscera is a rigorous self-examination in the midst of twenty-something confusion with gorgeous instrumentation attached. The result is fucking astounding.

Kanye West – Graduation

Imagine for a moment that you’re Kanye West circa 2007 (donning THOSE glasses and adopting a tone of braggadocio is encouraged). You’ve released two lavishly praised and commercially successful albums and you’ve achieved ‘household-name’ status. The question is then: what next? Do you: A)Tragically shuffle off the mortal coil in the wake of a cocaine overdose? B)Drop out of music altogether, only to resurface years later as a bassist for the Hannah Montana live show? C)Retreat to a small town, buy a bulldozer and use it to terrorize your fellow townspeople? Or D)Continue to release consistently excellent albums, starting with one entitled Graduation? Fortunately for us, Kanye picked Option D. Though there was that small mishap with the late registration, and an unfortunate drop-out period, Kanye has graduated in triumphant fashion. The beats are bombastic and maximalist. The vocal content explores both darker times passed and celebrations of success attained; the latter emphasises the former poignantly. Here, Kanye is on top of the world; consider this album the golden ticket you need to join him.

The national – Alligator; boxer; high violet

Full disclosure: the astute of you may have observed that there are three albums listed, so technically I’m cheating a bit here. Shhh. But fear not, I won’t fuck you over—there is justification behind my madness (this time). These three albums to my mind form a seamless and fluid trilogy, and each is as good as the other. All of them deal explicitly with adult life and the problems, the confusion, the feeling out-of-place, the occasional despondence. This can result in some pretty gloomy tunes (comparisons to Joy Division are deserved, albeit exaggerated), but paradoxically you’d be hard-pressed to find indie more exhilarating than this. This is in part courtesy of outrageously talented drummer Bryan Devendorf, but also the untapped grit and resilience tone. For every song that conveys the bands hopelessness, there’s a complimentary one that reveals them bounced back, obstinately refusing to give in. The music is cathartic, yes, but it’s also weirdly inspiring. And if you remain unconvinced I recommend getting roaringly pissed and singing along to ‘Mr. November’ at pants-shittingly loud volume (I’M THE NEW BLUUUUEEEE BLOOD).

Extra for Experts: The Dismemberment Plan— Emergency and I. 

Animal collective – merriweather post pavilion

So. Here we are. Merriweather Post Fucking Pavilion. My fanboyism for all things Animal Collective already attested to (http://goo. gl/vq06H), let’s talk about the album. The freak-folkers pen loving dedications to adult responsibilities and roles. Panda Bear yearns for “four walls and adobe slabs” for his wife and child, absolute joy and contentment are found in ‘Daily Routine’(s), spontaneous midnight excursions (‘Summertime Clothes’), performing cunnilingus on a long-time partner (‘Bluish’)(probably). The unrestrained bliss of the songs might seem a juxtaposition to the subject matter, the drudgery of adult routines and life. The point is that they aren’t, or that they needn’t be. The young don’t have a monopoly on happiness. You can and should go out and find fulfilment in the present at any age, rose-tinted moments of past ‘glory’ be damned. And if you need some help, there’s MPP to just lose yourself in—the euphoria, the life-affirming goodness, is infectious. TROOF.

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