In the film/novel Call Me By Your Name, Oliver asks Elio, “What did one do around here?” Elio replies, “Nothing. Wait for the summer to end.” Oliver asks again, “What did one do in the winter then?” He pauses but goes on to say: “Don’t tell me: wait for summer to come, right?”By the time the summer does end, their relationship expires along with it, and all Elio could do is look back and cherish the memories of a short but treasured affair. His summer ends, and it will never return.
As the summer months have gone, it’s easy to look back and feel nostalgic for the time when things were brighter and more optimistic. In 2020, the nostalgia for the pre-COVID age is much more palpable. It feels like everything that’s happened before the pandemic hit was a summer unto itself, and now, all we can do is wait for things to return to normal — if they ever get back to normal.
In the music video for Did You Die‘s new single, “We Can Do Whatever”, the band watches the weather unfold before them. Lambsbreath’s Nancy Gibos is also seen meandering about the field, laying on the grass, and dipping her toes in the water. It’s as if they’re just waiting for the time to pass until the next summer (or the COVID vaccine) comes to take them to better times, and yet what used to lie in the past may never come back. In a period of tense anticipation, the slowcore romance of “We Can Do Whatever” reminds us of more reassuring moments. It’s a love song looking to the past — of a relationship and of a period of forgotten freedom. “Wish you well,” Amanda Doucette sings as if a long-lost love has come and gone too quickly to realize that things are over.
Vancouver shoegazers Did You Die are a band that usually deploys heavy, crunching guitars, racing at fast speeds akin to bands they’ve shared the stage with like Swervedriver, Trail of Dead, and Nothing. This year they released single “Shine So Real”, a synth-focused beam of radiance, as well as an EP of playful 80s covers. On the David Lynch/Twin Peaks soundtrack-inspired “We Can Do Whatever,” they decelerate to a much more comfortable and appropriate pace at a time where we all need to slow down. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Alexander at his Vancouver studio, the track channels The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey,” a swelling dream-pop stunner shrouded in consoling noise.
At the beginning, the song erupts like firework fountains in slow motion. The iconic drums of the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” are deployed utilizing AMS reverb inspired by Phil Collins’ No Jacket Required. As the guitar melts in languor on each strum, Amanda Doucette’s soothing coos evaporate as she repeats, “We can do whatever” — a pre-pandemic maxim of better times. At the end of the film version of Call Me By Your Name, when Elio finds out that Oliver is engaged, he sits by the fire, tears falling down his face, but with a stifled smile. Whether it’s waiting for the pandemic to end or ruminating over romances of summers forgone, “We Can Do Whatever” draws us to the past and forces us to reflect on what we’ve taken for granted, providing us a sliver of warmth, even if just for a moment.