As a 2000's kid I can relate to things "only 90's kids can remember" but also can't remember a day I haven't been without the internet. I grew up in the between generation, not quite a millennial but also seemingly too old to be considered Generation Z. As most kids do in middle school you start to look for things that define you as person and experiment with different things you feel you identify with. Unfortunately for me that left me with the embarrassing "I want to be a Tumblr girl" pictures from that weird 2012-2014 phase of the internet, but it also left me with music I hold dear to my heart to this day.
Because I was a hard core Tumblr fanatic in middle school I fell into that "aesthetic," if you will. As the age of mustaches and swoopy emo hair came to an end, the wannabe soft grunge came in full steam ahead right into my little thirteen year old heart. In the midst of getting over my One Direction phase I was in need of new music. I had seen an image floating around the tumblr-verse for a while now with a line from a song called 'Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High' by The Arctic Monkeys, soon to become one of my favorite bands. While the album 'AM' couldn't be further from the life of a thirteen year old, I fell in love with it like doing drugs and having sex constantly was the lifestyle I lead in middle school. I felt like a bad-ass listening to their music and it ultimately boosted my self confidence a little. It taught me to branch out more, which was hard for me at the time because I had just moved to a new town and was just a preteen trying to figure out life. All I wanted was to wear all black or dark colors, mostly to hide the sweat marks on my shirts because I hadn't found the right antiperspirant yet, but I used the excuse of "I wanted to look cool" because that sounded better. I bought a Led Zeppelin shirt (that I still have to this day) because what do all the grungy kids wear? Band t-shirts of people they've barely even heard of before.
When I listen to "Pure Heroine" by Lorde now, it brings me back to a time where the Hunger Games first came out and it felt like the summer but it was Florida so it always did. I remember being in the back seat of my moms white Toyota Camry she just got, driving to my grandparents house with headphones in trying to tune out 'Wait Wait Don't Tell Me' on NPR because I didn't think it was cool. I would look out the window and long for a time that I could run away and create my own life for myself most likely in the city, kind of like Lady Bird. At the time, the lyrics meant something to me but never meant the actual meaning of what she was singing because I hadn't experienced anything in life yet. At the time it was just some cool music I found that felt like it could lead and entire teenage rebellion that I wanted to be a part of. Listening back to it now, the album encapsulates teenage life in a suburban town better than any album ever made, like… ever. It goes through the ups and downs of figuring out friends and who you want to hang out with, and your first love, and having a need to belong in something bigger than your small hometown but upon leaving immediately wanting to go back to your own bed and hug your parents and just never leave again. If anything Pure Heroine made me connect with my emotions more and understand what putting meaning into words feels like. I finally understood I wasn't alone in the agonizing journey that was growing up.
Around the same time 'Chocolate' by The 1975 came out along with their self titled album. In the same vein as the Arctic Monkeys with a hint of Lorde, The 1975 was my transition into depressing but happy sounding music. Not until recently did their music really mean anything to me, it was just fun to listen to and every once in a while you would catch a line like "She said the feds are here you know" and you come to the realization a song so innocently named Chocolate is about smoking weed and shooting heroin in the back of a car and being paranoid the cops are right behind you. I only began to realize what their songs really meant so the fun loving sound was never ruined for me when it mattered the most. The 1975 was a nice mix between pop and indie rock so I was able peacefully listen to it when I would occasionally clean my room and know my mom wouldn't be worried about what I was listening to.
Out of the blue one day I remembered a car commercial I saw in the fourth grade that had a really upbeat song in the back of it. I Googled "Honda commercial from 2010 Christmas" and found 'Holiday' by Vampire Weekend. The only way I can accurately describe Vampire Weekend is that they sound like college, but like college from some unknown indie movie that came out two years ago that just popped up in your Netflix recommended because of some unrelated period drama you watched one episode of a month ago. A band coming out of New York but drawing most of their inspiration from the strange people who live in Cape Cod and Provincetown, you can sense the Vineyard Vines shirts, boat shoes, and khaki shorts from miles away. Their music can get kind of political at times which is fine since you can't really tell because the lyrics are pretty ambiguous, which I feel like is why I liked them so much to begin with. During this time I was in a weird transition phase in my life where I didn't really know what I wanted again so I was just in this weird hodge-podge stage of wearing all black but rocking the Sperry's on the daily. With some almost aggressively upbeat and happy music, Vampire Weekend came into my life at a time where I needed it since in the past two years I had been listening to some pseudo deep music that people read too much into at the time to make themselves seem like an intellectual. Their self titled album taught me what it sounded like to have fun. I was a nervous, anxious mess in middle school because I was so worried about my self image I didn't understand what it felt like to be a kid anymore and deep in my subconscious I knew I missed it.
As I was on the bus today going to get my car, I put in my headphones and clicked on A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, the newest album by The 1975 that was released briefly after lead singer Matty Healy came out and said he had been in rehab for drug addiction. Since that most of the album has undertones of Healy missing opiates and longing for them again but knowing how bad they are and the trap he can fall into again, it made sense for him to admit to such a life altering consequence. But then something clicked in my mind. Lorde, before Melodrama came out, she took a long break in the woods in New Zealand just for herself, The Arctic Monkeys took five years off to write Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino so they didn't burn themselves out again, Vampire Weekend hasn't made an album in five years either and just announced one "will be coming soon" but like their lyrics, it's a pretty undetermined statement like they don't even know when the album will be out which sounds like it could be frustrating, but as I am in my freshman year of college, I get it.
I have been listening to these artists for almost seven years now and they grew with me. The first albums I had ever heard from them were the most pivotal in my life from sixth grade until senior year of high school when they all came out with new music or at least announced it, and now the new albums pertain to my life more than I thought they would. This time I didn't have to wait to understand the meaning of the songs, I could feel the pain and love and loss in each and every one from the first time I listened to them. Obviously it's all a coincidence but I like to think they all knew I was going off to college and needed some moral support. These were artists that grew with me as I got older. I thought they would have grown old to me by now but they all became timeless. All these lessons they have all taught me, how I was able to become more confident just by how music sounded or how I became more intune with how I feel about certain things. But the most important one that was never in any of their music, never a title of any of their songs or their albums, they taught me how to care for myself. Each and everyone took time off for themselves and only themselves so they can become a better person. And I can only wish I remember to do the same for myself in the future.
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