You’ve got to hand it to Drew Thompson. While his Craig Finn-esque sentiments have a tendency to bleed into one another, he is still more than capable of penning one-liners that perfectly capture an all-too familiar feeling of malaise.
His nod to the Y2K clusterfuck comes at the start of Single Mothers’ newest offering “East Van Band Van”, which is off a two-song teaser that anticipates the band’s new LP entitled Our Pleasure, out June 16th. Produced by Alexisonfire’s Wade Macneil, the track finds former Single Mothers guitarist Justis Krar and current Dirty Nil bassist Ross Miller filling out the vacant spots in Single Mothers’ studio roster. The choices pay off, as instrumentally, the band has rarely sounded better. The slower tempo gives drummer Brandon Jagersky ample room to move around his kit, which sounds enormous alongside Krar’s and Miller’s tones. The immediacy of the music allows “East Van Band Van” to be more than just a platform for Thompson’s nihilistic conceits, though there’s still plenty of them to be had.
If it’s possible to sound simultaneously invigorated and defeated, Thompson has figured out how. His delivery is subdued, yet strangely melodic, mostly yielding to the song’s massive instrumentation. The vocals exude a passivity that’s mirrored in the lyrics, which concern losing control of one’s purpose in life. Thompson has stated that the song is a response to watching his friends fall into the supposed trap of “family, marriage, kids and excitement over earning the corner office”, but there seems to be a broader scope to his overall point. The monotony of contemporary touring life, ripe with its own form of existential dread, comes into question as well. After all, whether you’re absently gazing out the window of a high-rise office, or you’re “living out the band van”, we all can come to “hate the way every day feels the same”.
For me, it all comes back to that first line, where we all died back in ‘99. After the paranoia of the impending millennium passed, and the socialization of the internet began to run rampant, perhaps we lost the ability to define meaning in our lives by our own standards. In a time of carefully curated online personalities and lifestyles, it’s become far easier to doubt the legitimacy of the individual paths we’ve chosen. Against the standards set by the new realities of filtered social interaction, everyday life—no matter what your vocation—can often seem downright miserable and pointless. From these daily nadirs, the only option is to block out the cacophony in an attempt to relish the aspects of life that truly hold meaning. There’s no use wallowing in stagnancy; as Thompson suggests: “you gotta keep going man, we can’t just leave the van here.”