And the Kids Revel in the Strength Derived From Defeat on 'When This Life Is Over'

Photo courtesy of Lucky Bird Media

And the Kids' When This Life is Over contributes to the annals of popular culture representing melancholy while situating the band alongside the likes of Sylvia Plath, Robert Smith, Tennessee Williams, and a cadre of other artists and musicians hectored by dejection.

When This Life Is Over
And the Kids

Signature Sounds

22 February 2019

Tapping into and addressing anxieties can result in a mess or reward. For the western Massachusetts indie band And the Kids, their new album, When This Life Is Over, finds solace in the latter. The album brims with conceptualized thinking centered on sadness and depression while emphasizing the drive for emotional fulfillment. And the Kids realize happiness is subjective, fleeting, and slippery. But When This Life is Over revels in the strength derived from defeat despite the heavy shroud rendered by melancholy.

When This Life Is Over conveys an authentic depiction of developing affective awareness. One of the realizations evoked by adulting is that life will force individuals to follow paths they don't want to undertake. And the Kids see the aversion and in "Butterfingers" reflect on "a shitty life so they could have the best" and keeping "a shitty job so we could all hang out". So often, wadding through the muck is the only avenue to actualization. At no point does the band wallow in defeat or ennui. Rather, they push listeners to conceptualize the uplift encased in life's drudgery. The band's belief in obtaining happiness is framed by music and the unrelenting need to "...sing loud / Hoping not to be sad / That's why I sing loud / Hoping we could drown it out." Much as "Butterfingers" pushes for triumph, so does the subsequent track "Champaign Ladies". And the Kids provide the twin discourses, "Life is a bastard / It wants to kill you" and "Don't let go / Doing wrong but feelin right." There's liberation in the realization that nothing is exact and the idea of what's right is confined by subjectivity.

Meeting proscriptive expectations is also exceptionally daunting. In "No Way Sit Back", And the Kids see navigating expectations as "starting to swim in the recipe / Devised up for me." Expectations are staggering when agency is lacking, and the individual is left to "hardly think and I can hardly begin / I'm starting to sink in the recipe / Devised up for me." At the track's halfway point, the tempo shifts and the upsurge symbolizes clarity. The band projects "the world was never made for / Made for us…." When considering "No Way Sit Back" in tandem with "Champagne Ladies" and "Butterfingers", And the Kids evoke the resolve often eclipsed by anxieties and duress.

When This Life Is Over moves to the hereafter on the album's title track. According to And the Kids, only "when this life is over / No more rules no more orders / The fear in people won't rule our new lives / Everyone could be swinging side to side." A bleak statement considering their previously piqued hints of optimism. Yet in And the Kids' style, the darkness is not longstanding. Lead singer, Hannah Mohan's vocals, unwrap around the lyrics "Nothing is worse than an entropy" thereby signaling a call for action. Resoluteness returns in "Somethings [Are] Good" and even turns towards an affirming dismissal of negativity when Mohan sings "Everything else can just go take a hike in the woods / Take it away / Just want the best out of every day."

When This Life Is Over adroitly captures the emotional extremes caused by anxiety and depression. For so many, mental health is often a swinging pendulum and And the Kids approach the emotional duplexity in "White Comforters". Here the band relies on materialism as a symbol demonstrating the rift between happiness and sorrow: "white comforters will always seem / Always seem dirty." Throughout the album, And the Kids are careful to signify emotional fatigue and mental health challenges humanely. In doing so, they create a kinship with those feeling a similar malaise. The band accepts sadness as a reflection of the individual and successfully avoids an essentialist reading. By expressing "Our struggles are as real as daylight", And the Kids deftly build camaraderie out of tribulations.

When This Life Is Over is responsive in its dolor while earnestly depicting mental health challenges. The album contributes to the annals of popular culture representing melancholy while situating And the Kids alongside the likes of Sylvia Plath, Robert Smith, Tennessee Williams and a cadre of other artists and musicians hectored by dejection. And the Kids' portrayal of sadness is as appealing as it is devastating.

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