Growing up, were you the kind of kid that needed to get slathered in sunscreen and strapped into ISO-certified safety gear before stepping foot outdoors? Or were you like me, free to roam your neighbourhood and any adjoining “haunted forests” with nothing but a pair of well-worn running shoes, tender skin revealing short shorts, and whatever equipment you could carry with you on your journey: bikes, balls, bats, and roller skates?
Watching the video for “Graceless,” the latest single from Edmonton-based band Wares, reminds me of the carefree and scar- and scrape-heavy days of my youth. Like Wares’ Cassia Hardy in the video, I remember roller skating around the asphalt and rough gravel of my neighbourhood roads, praying that my almost non-existent balance skills would keep me upright. Like the scenes of Hardy fumbling to stay standing (captured on film by her bandmate Matthew Gooding), those were the days when it felt like sunlight, and the summer-warmed air around me was all the protection and buffering I needed to protect me from harm.
The images and emotions run counter to “Graceless”’ lyrical sentiments. Non-descript but highly evocative, Hardy sings of moments where “Morning slips / through the blinds / like a sliver through a cuticle,” cutting to the quick by prompting a pain you can almost feel. “We’ve done it now / for real this time,” she sighs, asking, “Was it our sour breath / or faded makeup mess, / turned her smile to a shudder?” Yet, as we’ve come to expect from Wares, their razor-sharp indie rock chops counter the seriousness of Hardy’s singing with buzzing guitar and pop charms. Perfectly imperfect, as most memories are, “Graceless” is as well-polished and poised as spiky pop with ripping guitar riffs can and should be.