Nostalgia is a common theme in music today. It's easy to understand why. Unemployment is at 12% in California, services are being slashed to the bone through budget cuts, politics are depressing. The people of my generation--20-somethings who came of age in the '00s but are old enough to have enjoyed life pre-9/11--are bearing the burden of a whole range of problems that somebody else caused. So it's only natural that nostalgia sets in. Nostalgia for youth, for Saturday morning cartoons, for the hot rods and surfboards and babes of the long-gone '50s and '60s era.
You'll hear nostalgia in "Sparkler," a cut from Jeans Wilder's new Nice Trash LP, which comes out tomorrow on French labels La Station Radar and Atelier Ciseaux. You'll hear it in the track's doo-wop rhythm and you'll see it in the antique, scratched-out footage of naked women with retro hairdos in the video (above). But "Sparkler," with its longing melody and dub echo, is beyond nostalgic. It's depressed. As he sings his lovelorn lyrics--"And the tears on my pillow keep waking me up / From this beautiful dream / That you're still here with me"--Jeans Wilder mastermind Andrew Caddick sounds like he's neck-deep in his own tears, trying not to drown.
The lyrics in "Sparkler" are about a girl who's gone away, but--excuse me while I get meta for a minute--they could very well be about the classic image itself. The '50s and '60s had the U.S.S.R., the nuclear threat and anti-Communist paranoia in addition to hot rods and surfboards and babes. Maybe the romanticism, the germ that gives nostalgia its magic, somehow slipped away from Jeans Wilder. He calls it back with this doo-wop song, he dreams a beautiful dream, but the magic has been replaced with the sinking impression that life back then wasn't so magical compared to life today. The enemies were different, of course, and the unemployment rate might not have been as bad--and nobody had iPhones back then--but the politics were just as depressing. Young people were just as burdened with their parents' problems.
That's my interpretation, at least. It could also have nothing to do with what's going on today or back then or any time anywhere. It's just a sad song about a boy in love and the girl who's left him: the classic song suspended in time.
Jeans Wilder celebrates the release of Nice Trash at Tin Can Ale House tonight. Speculator, Teen Porn and Raw Moans also perform.