I made two writing resolutions for 2020: Never start another sentence with the words “This record…” or “This song…” ever again, and never write another blog post about how listening to newly released music makes me feel old.
In a concerted effort to keep these resolutions, I will not focus this blog post on how Get Bleak, the new EP from Toronto’s Ducks Unlimited, reminds me that my thirties — let alone my twenties — are now so firmly behind me I’d need the Hubble Telescope to see them. I will not belabour the point that its four songs are like one of those memes that compare the time between the present and when I was fresh out of university to the interval between WWII and Sgt. Pepper and other random milestones meant to make me feel ancient. I will not succumb.
It’s true, I was a restless young Turk around the time when the jangle-pop that Ducks Unlimited play was fresh-sounding college rock, offering an antidote to the anodyne, cookie-cutter, big-haired fluff rock plaguing commercial radio. Admittedly, the sparkly jingle of the EP’s title song does ring a nostalgic bell or two every time I hear it, as does the sombre-sounding “Annie Forever”, but let’s not linger on those bygone days, because Ducks Unlimited aren’t singing about my past; they’re firmly rooted in their present with eyes to the future. I wouldn’t have the constitution to be a twenty-something in 2020. Precarious employment? Being priced out of the real estate market for, like ever? Lingering ennui? Thanks, but no thanks. Been there, done that, got the Palm Pilot to prove it. You think it’s bleak now? I’ve seen your future — hell I’m living it — and you’re in for the shock of a lifetime.
But I made a resolution and I’m going to stick to it. Besides, wallowing in the mire never got anyone anywhere. Ducks Unlimited get that. This recordGet Bleak isn’t bogged down by the everyday struggles of young adults making their way through a world determined to get the better of them. Its songs smack of post-FOMO clarity, of discovering a state of grace where you know you can’t escape bullshit, so you might as well find something to laugh and smile about. In the end, it’s that quality, that clarity, that endears me to Ducks Unlimited: their music doesn’t make me feel old, it makes me hopeful.