Each Tuesday, FADER editor Matthew Schnipper highlights an underappreciated release he thinks we need to know about. This week it’s Lync's These Are Not Fall Colors. Listen to album opener "B" below and read Schnipper’s thoughts after the jump.
In Nicole Holofcener’s movie about money Please Give, to illustrate to the sad sack lifestyle of Rebecca Hall’s mammogram tech character, they make her disinterested in going upstate to see the leaves change. “Are you going to see the leaves?” “Are you going to see the leaves?” “Are you going to see the leaves?” Inside, she is screaming that she does not care about the fucking leaves you motherfuckers. But it’s a metaphor, of course, as she knows nothing is more beautiful than the natural change inherent in the wild colors of autumn. And eventually, warmed up, she does take the quick trip north to see the leaves. Turns out she’s got quite a smile.
Fall is the best season. Everyone knows that. People in Los Angeles are only jealous of that. They can drive their car to the other seasons and no one really likes being freezing, so fuck winter, anyway. Snow’s nice, but once you see it a few times the mystery’s gone and the brown slush piles up. Summer’s too sticky and spring’s strictly for lovers, so inevitably fall is the indie rock season and inevitably it all came from the Pacific northwest where its dewy and grey most of the time, anyway. Where else can you wear flannel year-round?
About ten years after indie rock or whatever was invented, music made by weird young people reached a crossroads. Kurt Cobain had made his mark and was already dead by spring of 1994, around when Lync released These Are Not Fall Colors. Cobain was a figurehead, and, untethered from his perfect synthesis of aggression and melancholy, young people’s music fell to a million strands. Minor Threat had been fully eaten by Fugazi, which is like trading football for calculus. Hardcore, went in two directions, either fully emotional or totally jocked out, and soft music began to reign, with bands like Low and Sea and Cake. Riot grrl was still new enough to not saturate, especially with boys. So pissed high school kids either went the super aggro route of Earth Crisis or they found their feelings and started wearing T-shirts and scarves in combo. Lync got the coffee grounds at the bottom of the pot and made a record fully in the vein of nonsensical importance of “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter.” But being from the Pacific Northwest (like Cobain), they also worked with touches of the Beat Happening’s warmly naïve dingy pop. Beat Happening formed in 1983 out of perfectly named Evergreen, the weirdo college. Calvin Johnson, who has had a long, wonderful career made from tinkering and rambling, was the street preacher/deep tenor of the band and also the founder of K Records, which had been around a decade by the time it released These Are Not Fall Colors. Johnson, Beat Happening and K made a narrow but fertile history of off kilter pop, homegrown troubadours with unearned heartaches. If you had a bongo, an ex-girlfriend and a decent sized lack of shame and/or a wide eyed wonderment at most of the natural universe, you could probably at least get your demo considered by K. Which is how they like it and how they worked best (see: The Blow, The Microphones, Old Time Relijun, etc). The musicianship got better over the years, but the raw power driving it never dulled its edges. The only problem was, that power was fueled by such a youthful disquiet that by the time early adulthood rolled around, often it was gone.
These Are Not Fall Colors is not altogether unique. It has cousins in Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel, the aforementioned Fugazi. But it has no parents, weird orphan that learned language and rhythm at its own pace from magazine clippings and sneaks at the TV. The first song is just called “B.” Another is “Angelfood Fodder and Vitamins.” The final song, “Uberrima Fides,” looks like gibberish, but is Latin for “utmost good faith,” which is intensely emo. But also ridiculously effective. They were a tight band, played quick and tumbling, not yelling but with pleas, not low fidelity, but generally crummy. “Perfect Shot” has moments of extreme clarity and speed, rascally guitars breaking out with simple drums (so much cymbal work), before a totally pounding finale that sounds like someone hitting their head against a door. Before it finishes, there is a muffled drum climax, like they felt it was necessary to end that way. The songs are naïve but don’t know they're naïve, the difference between 1994 and 2010. Not anyone’s fault, but different times.
Recently, Emily Gould wrote an open letter to Tavi Gevinson and Jane Pratt about the potential pitfalls and bummers (their own and others) about starting a new magazine venture. Gevinson is the 16-year-old behind Style Rookie and Pratt is the more than that age woman behind both Sassy and Jane, magazines that changed lives. Gould warns sadly against the commoditization of creativity and the new sausage that is “content. “What I'm trying to say is that it creeps me out that everyone I know is sending you their resume because I want experience to count for something, and right now it seems like it has never counted for less. It seems like the most talented people I know have spent their working lives honing their skill at something that, for the most part, has ceased to exist,” Gould wrote. “And as much as part of me wants desperately to be considered cool and smart enough to work with you guys, there is another part of me that just can't get past being annoyed that a generation of talented twenty- and thirty-somethings with years of working at dead magazines and newspapers under their belts are unemployed, quasi-employed, and spinning their wheels on Tumblr because the future belongs to people who have never not had an email address.” And this made me pretty bummed, but it mostly made me think it’s not Gevinson’s fault she was born in the ’90s. And it sucks that things change but sometimes you just change with them and when you try to go back they aren’t the same so maybe you shouldn’t go back. You can still buy back issues of Sassy on eBay. Or you can read The Hairpin. Likewise, Lync made one record of early adolescent rage and quit. You can get it on iTunes. They probably went to college and got real jobs (and, yeah, formed Love as Laughter). Which is exactly what they should have done because the youthful arts don’t pay forever. Or even when you’re young. Maybe that open letter should have said, Hey Tavi, get a good accountant asap.