Billed, by Aunts themselves, as ‘the best post-collegiate sad pop bullshit you’ve already heard before,’ the most recent offering by this ‘sad band’ from Bloomington, Indiana derives strength from its very fleeting presence. (It is over, it seems, almost before it began). This saves it from any accusations of overlabouring the point; implicit in the defiant acknowledgment that this is well-trodden ground is a tongue-in-cheek challenge to the spirited listener to invest it with whatever value they deem it to merit – with a nod to the risk that the joke could, in fact, be on them. Indeed, it is hard to make out whether the figure on the album’s cover is laughing or weeping, and the thin line between humour and heartbreak is expertly navigated in the tragicomic vocals of Matthew Geas over the eighteen minutes it takes to get from beginning to end.
The opener, ‘Addicted 2 U,’ contains the admission of fuck-ups made on the birthday of the titular character, mistakes involving the kissing and punching of dudes in inclement weather. This is less an apology than a shifting of blame, a pinning of irresponsibility to various kinds of addiction, but in this track, as in the majority of others, reassuring cadences, regular beats and easy resolutions – that punk kind of sonic positivity – ensure that the listener is not weighed down by the potential gravity of the situation but instead placated by the sound of the package in which the bad news is delivered.
And (lyrically, at least) it’s almost all bad news. Ovid’s Echo and Narcissus make themselves felt throughout the album, with a pronounced tendency for songs to repeat only the most depressing refrains: the desperate ‘I don’t want to be alone’ (‘Alone, Alone, Alone’), the resentful ‘you said it was okay’ (‘The Ocean in January is Beautiful Here’), and the downright grim ‘I can’t wait to give up’ (‘Sunsets’). And the band’s statement that any suspicions we might have that the songs are about us are probably true means that the whole listening experience is one of modern narcissism, an invitation for us to assuage persistent fears of irrelevance through the most toxic and selfish method we’ve so far come up with. These myths, stripped of love and enchantment, contain only heartbreak, but it’s not all as dark as that – so long as we are not so deep into our own reflections that we fail to see the joke.*
*For proof that the joke exists, click here (and note, in particular, the back).
Hear/buy Good Mourning Moon here.