christmas is on the horizon, as is my imminent return home for the holidays. it's always in the back of my mind, but thoughts of home - good, bad and everything in between - are stronger than ever around this time of year. needless to say, things have changed considerably since i made the first post of this series, and i'm glad to say that it's (mostly) for the better. one thing that never changes though, is my love of music, particularly songs that remind me of home.
as much as i loved his last EP wild, i am, for the most part, disappointed with troye sivan's new album, blue neighbourhood. there was however, one song that stood out to me.
as the title would suggest, suburbia is his ode to the suburbs, to his blue neighbourhood.
"i have a little bit of a complex relationship with home where i’m really, really obsessed with it – it’s my paradise – but at the same time i know that i’m thankful to live the life that i live where i get to go home for two weeks and then leave again before i get sick of it," he told the guardian.
this pretty much sums up how i feel about going home these days. as i begin to feel (slightly) more settled at uni, i don't long for the quiet comfort of my teenage bedroom quite as much as i used to when i first moved away. that's not to say i've dismissed it completely. there's so much history in my head, the people i've left, the ones that i've kept, sivan sings. it's bittersweet. can't help but feel i've lost what's mine, he muses, and in a sense i did lose it, i just didn't realise at the time how much i was leaving behind. there's something about one's home town that is inescapable. it has this hold on you, the emotional ties to people and places seemingly unbreakable, no matter how hard we may try to run away from it and carve out a new life, a new identity, miles away from the place that made us who we are. it seems i'm never letting go of suburbia, sivan concludes, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing, i've come to realise. as he said in the above quote, the beauty of my life now is that i can have all the good parts of going home - seeing friends, family and revisiting all my favourite places - but have the luxury of leaving once i've had enough. it's hard at times, but moving away gave me a sense of independence i never knew i needed and now i've had a taste of it, i don't want to give it up. gone are the endless nights tossing and turning, agonising over people i desperately wanted but could never have. that silent desperation still hangs in the air though, whenever i return to that room. nevertheless, i try to hold onto it as much as possible. the thought that in the not-so-distant future, when my brother and i are (fully) grown up and have moved out, my parents will sell up and move away and my bedroom, with the concert tickets and posters plastered to the walls, will become an empty shell, is slightly heartbreaking.
in my humble opinion, nobody captures that teenage angst and longing better than lorde. now i'm officially in my twenties (!!!) i feel like i should be over these feelings but most of the time i do still feel like i'm fourteen again, so scared and unsure of everything around me. the most beautiful thing about lorde's lyrics is the contrast between the ordinary every day and the deliciously decadent, something which leant itself perfectly to her stage name that was inspired by her fascination with "royals and aristocracy". she makes these ordinary suburban streets sound like paradise, and i suppose in some ways they are, or were, though i just didn't see it at the time. as cliché as it sounds, you really don't know what you've got until it's gone. we live in cities you'll never see on screen, not very pretty but we sure know how to run things, she sings on team. i always found the contrast between suburban towns and cities fascinating; behind my house is an endless field of green in which horses graze, but just half an hour away is the hustle and bustle of the city centre. it's the best of both worlds, and something that you certainly wouldn't find in london. in a place like that, there's no respite from the stress of the inner city, the grey, polluted skies and packed tubes, filled to bursting with commuters fighting for standing space and complaining if they miss a tube despite them arriving every two minutes. they wouldn't last five minutes where i live. a half an hour wait for a bus? simply absurd! though i always loved those journeys, and still do. one song of hers i only recently discovered is ribs, and the lyrics made my heart ache with their painful accuracy. this song is me and my best friend all over. you're the only friend i need, sharing beds like little kids, and laughing 'till our ribs get tough, but that will never be enough. call me naive, but i just think it might be. nevertheless, none of us can escape the fact that we all have to grow up someday. this dream isn't feeling sweet, we're reeling through the midnight streets and i've never felt more alone, it drives you crazy getting old. it does, it really does, but we have each other and for now that's enough. we're on each other's team.
twenty one pilots
despite the hype, this is a band i'm not totally familiar with, but their song hometown captures the darker side of how i feel towards where i grew up. where we're from, there's no sun, our hometown's in the dark. it is, it really is. where i'm from is not the nicest of places. people struggle, whether it's trying to make ends meet from day to day or stuck in dead end jobs, unable to move on to bigger and better things. looking back, i hated this town and was, in a sense, ashamed to be from there, but now i have an immense amount of respect for these people since experiencing the difficulty of living away from home and trying to budget. but these people don't let their circumstances affect them. it's a friendly place, which is great if you like having your ear chatted off by a complete stranger at a bus stop, though that's not really my thing. these people make do with what they've got, and the most important thing they have is each other. the sun might not come out very often, but they make sure that the lights of the town are never dimmed, even when they switch off for the night.
i have to admit, i just don't get why people like this band so much, but their song sprawl II (mountains beyond mountains) has this almost hypnotic effect on me, pulling me in with terrifically, terrifyingly, poignant lyrics. these days my life i feel it has no purpose, but late at night the feelings swim to the surface. always, always always. i need the darkness, someone please cut the lights. when it all gets too much, being alone with my thoughts is something i both cherish but also fear. things can get dark pretty quickly if i think about things too long, but there's always the next day and the promise that things can, and will, be better. 'cause on the surface the city lights shine, they're screaming at me, "come and find your kind". it's the promise of something better, something more. but this is an ode to the suburbs, the mundane things that we take for granted. there's beauty in such familiarity, though. dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains, and there's no end in sight. the view from my windows at home says as much; if you look off into the distance it's an endless mass of lights blinking and winking at you in the darkness, the tower of winter hill looming above it all, standing guard. sometimes i wonder if the world's so small, that we can never get away from the sprawl. these lyrics make it sound like a bad thing, but the trappings of suburbia are all around us, no matter where we go, and i've come to realise that there's nowhere i'd rather be than standing in those fields of a summer evening, watching as the lights slowly start to turn on when dusk falls.
i have spent, and still do, spend a lot of time by myself. over the years i suppose i had to get used to it as friends came and went, but music was the one thing that was always there when i needed it. lonely town is brandon flowers' ode to all of us who felt lost, like we didn't have a friend in the world, and trust me, there were times when i really didn't. if only i'd heard this song back then. loneliness, from a young age, became a part of me, embedded in my personality, and it still to this day hasn't totally left me. spinning like a gravitron, when i was just a kid, i always thought that things would change, but they never did. there comes a time when you just give up hoping that things will work out for the better, though at fourteen, feeling like the whole world is against you, it's like the end of the world. do you keep your ear to the ground, for the kid in lonely town? flowers asks as the songs draws to a close, and it's sort of sad and happy all at once. now with the internet, its easier than ever to connect with people who feel just like you do, and without these communities i don't know how i would have got through those difficult times. there's always someone to turn to, and the beauty of it is that one can remain completely anonymous. once you're able to open up, it feels like a weight has been lifted and everything starts to seem more manageable.
it's not all doom and gloom, though, this home town business. hailing from my native manchester (there's no way i could have written this post without including a band from there), the now defunct pegasus bridge are still one of my favourite bands, and three years later i'm still recovering from their split. the first time i saw them, they were the support act for futures, also now defunct, but they really stole the show. i stood there, mesmerised by singer ed turner's voice. the crowd around me were word perfect, and it was only a few months later that i too was part of that crowd at their farewell show. my love affair with this band was short but sweet, and one of my favourite songs was one of their last releases, heartstrings. even after four years, it still pulls at my very own heartstrings, as a feeling of bittersweet nostalgia creeps over me. the skin that we live in, is slightly constricting, turner sings, and i know this feeling all too well, that things aren't quite right but not being able to put my finger on why. a feeling of unease, a wave of homesickness, reminiscing of times long gone when things were so much simpler yet so complicated in that very teenage way where anything and everything breaks your heart. (hormones, eh?) stay if you want to, you know that i'll miss you. and i do, so much. being away from my best friend, leaving town before he does, feels like torture sometimes, knowing that he still has time left there while mine is coming to an end. even if the words remain unspoken, i know we both miss each other, and it's a feeling that never quite leaves me. this song confronts this head on, but also provides the listener with hope. someday, when all of this is done, when we're in the same place at the same time once again, different but still the same, we'll have it all. just think what it might be like, to live like this every night. those nights where it's just the two of us, drunk on cheap spirits and happiness, going through all our same rituals - it never changes, but that's how i like it - are the happiest times of my life. they might not happen as much as i'd like to now we're at opposite ends of the country, but it means i only cherish every hour we spend together more than ever before. and we will, we'll live like that every night, just us and the city lights and the endless possibility, and all the hard times will have been worth it.