Do you remember when you were young and you saw a cartoon on TV that captivated you with nothing but its sound and visuals? As a child, you probably didn’t have any real intellectual reasons to like such a show, you simply thought it was cool. But as you grew up that mindless wonder slowly began to vanish. Instead of cool visuals and catchphrases, you started to place these shows under more critical lights. How well do they handle character development? How well is the story paced? The list goes on.
This got me thinking about our tastes in music and how they develop over time. As a young teenager, you would have heard me jamming early Sanctus Real or Switchfoot constantly but as I’ve entered my twenties I’ve become far more inclined to listen to stuff like Radiohead, Pink Floyd, or The National. But sometimes I like to go back and revisit those records to experience that carefree, non-critical mindset I had in my youth.
Red is a band that I’ll admit I frowned upon at one time. Their image was forced and cheesy and their music was way too overdramatic. But then they released Gone and I couldn’t help but laugh at the artwork they had chosen for the front cover. I gave it a brief listen and discarded it just as quickly with a shake of the head.
I regret that now and I deeply apologize for it because, coming back to it nearly a year later, I think I understand it now. I think I understand who it was made for and why. In fact, it couldn’t be more obvious.
Look at that cover for a moment. It’s incredibly cheesy, silly even, but at the same time, isn’t it cool? Look at the tracklisting, there are songs called, “Step Inside, The Violence,” “Unstoppable,” “A.I.,” and “Singularity.” The songs themselves are drenched in electronics, crushing riffs, screams, and EDM samples. Check out some of these lyrics,
“In the dark, I am a flame / A passing light, all in vain….I want to save it all
I want to take it all / My heart is holding on / I bleed, I bleed for love,” from “Gone.”
“My wandering heart was searching / Your ember eyes were burning / You led the edge to me / I hit the ground crashing,” from “Fractured.”
“Lost inside a memory, buried deep inside of me / Never breaking, I’m escaping / Lost inside a memory, can’t erase the agony / Never breaking, overtaking now,” from “A.I.”
They even performed a cover of “Unstoppable,” a song originally by pop artist SIA, which shouts, “I’ll put my armour on, show you how strong I am… / I’m unstoppable I’m running with no brakes / I’m invincible, yeah, I win every single game / I’m so powerful, I don’t need batteries to play.” This is stuff every adolescent boy drools over.
Gone displays a level of self-awareness that was only hinted at on past projects. It’s as though they knew their image was cheesy and so, rather than shake it off and try to avoid it, they dove into it head first and embraced it angst and all. As a result, if you’re willing to go back to that time when you loved something just because it looked and sounded cool, it becomes an incredibly enjoyable experience.
My critical ears wish they didn’t love this record as much as they do but I can’t avoid it. Whenever I listen to it my mind conjures up thoughts of epic anime battles, dark characters, and bleak moments of desperation. I’ve learnt that it’s perfectly fine to go back and relive those days and experience those feelings again because, like every young boy did growing up, I find those images and sounds to be nothing short of awesome.