Earlier this year there was a period when I woke up feeling heavy, weighted down as all hell and not wanting to do anything other than disappear back into the sheets. It was always around one in the afternoon and I had slept way in again after staying up until five in the morning the previous night. My mouth was dry and pasty and I had a throbbing headache due to the light that was seeping into my room and the heat that it caused. This, all the result of what had become my shameful personal life at the time. I hadn’t seen my friends in weeks, the grocery store that I worked at provided nothing but a small bit of depression
knowing that I work in a grocery store (again), and the last time I touched someone in even a half-embrace was so long ago that I couldn’t recall. All family members were a world away (I wouldn’t have gotten along with them if they weren’t, anyway) and I was feeling pretty ridiculous. The first thing I’d do when I woke up is put on the kettle and decide what the hell I felt like listening to. Xiu Xiu? Too dramatic—this was a lethargic, gloomy weight that was bothering me. I needed something personal, something that isn’t all grand metaphors and crazy instrumentation. Hayden used to fit this bill but I know his back
catalogue like the back of my hand and his newest endeavors I am not the largest fan of. I’m too old for Bright Eyes. What the hell was there?
Then I found someone who sounds like they are the living embodiment of such mornings. Resigned and miserable. Defeated and almost too tired to make a fuss.
Like Trees We Grow Up to Be Satellites is the second release by Lazarus (aka William Trevor Montgomery). 2003 saw the release of Songs for an Unborn Sun and with this sophomore release Lazarus provides more of the same melancholic solace. But really, this guys a senior by now (formerly a member of Tarentel and The Drift) and this is the sound of an honest—no—honestly defeated man. And believe me when I tell you that I am not typically a fan of this sort of bedroom singer-songwriter thing (minus Everything I Long For and The Closer I Get…and Magnetic Fields). But Lazarus sounds too much like how I feel on those types of mornings and all pretensions are thrown out the window here.
I mean, this type of modern, suburban folk isn’t hard to come by, but there’s something pleasurable about listening to Lazarus’ deeply personal sentiments. I feel uncomfortable listening sometimes in that it feels like I’m intruding. These songs are sparse for the most part with occasional studio flourishes. The first song that I heard off this disc was “Singing to the Thieves” which is, surprisingly, a pop song amongst a collection of mopers (is that a word?). It’s all lo-fi MBV-ish guitar with acoustic strumming overtop, galloping along at a catchy pace. There are sections that are sorta uplifting, like the piano-cum-steel drum
that accompanies the chorus in “This American Dream.” But most of Like Trees We Grow Up... stays snuggly at the dreary end of things. If I had one complaint, it would be that for the next outing I hope that Lazarus peppers the recording with more of the unique and interesting sounds like some of those found here (on “With/What/We” there is what sounds like bamboo pole being struck onto pavement). Perhaps that might take away from the reason I enjoyed this in the beginning though. It’s all about curling up with yourself and trying to see if you can get past anomalies in the daily routine. A line from “Singing to the Thieves” sums it up nicely.
“I’m starting to forget / the reason that I cared in the first place.”
I hear you.
- Andrew Iliadis
/sept 1st 2005/