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Climate’s “Smiling The Right Way” Is a Search for Meaning

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What is a song but the weaving of instruments, vocals, and themes? What is life but an ongoing attempt to untangle meaning?

In Climate’s single, “Smiling the Right Way,” from 2021’s Colorways, the band blends a cheery, upbeat tune with dense lyrical snapshots that characterize the flexible yet cyclical nature of life.

The single opens with a bright melody, but the lyrics then hint at something darker lurking underneath the music. The band uses interesting images to convey adaptability and, maybe, addiction:

We keep sending it

Via standing waves

We keep feeding it

Through the interface.

This repetitive nature of life (or, put another way, our ability to keep adapting to the ruts we’re in) is only the beginning. I love the creativity in the second verse that implies some kind of transition from recurring habits, or maybe a conclusion:

Ends definitive

Corners closely cropped

Split infinitives

Blur the bitter top.

The chorus then blends Nathan Beach’s and Grant Kuneman’s vocals into lyrics that suggest feigned strength is a virtue.

Smiling the right way now

We have made it home somehow

To a sanguine lair in the hay

For our babbling stream

Of weak solutions.

The chorus doesn’t resolve neatly; the last two lines imply that even in our hard-earned, apparent rest, we’re still subjected to a constant drip of input that never fully fills us.

The last two verses are a bittersweet perspective on death and legacy.

Soon we’ll be gone

But we’ll leave with a serenade

About the moon on the lawn

And the plans we made.

It’s an intimate line that feels starkly tangible against the indefinite lyrics that have preceded it. And it’s followed by the final thought:

Now we’re gonna have to move along

We’re gonna have to move along.

This final moment is the song’s resolution. It’s the clearest statement of the song’s overlapping themes: that we build both our ruts and our flexibility through our repeated struggles, that even our repeated struggles are transient, and that, somehow, that’s how it all has to be.

This song is a sonic quilt of emotion and experience for the digital age. Like patterns repeated to craft a blanket, Climate uses evocative, mysterious images that are sometimes metaphoric or abstract (“definitive” and “split infinitives”) and sometimes sharply concrete (“a serenade about the moon on the lawn”) to create a song that resonates with a subdued complexity.

In the end, it feels like a return to the search.

Maybe we’re cursed to seek forever. Maybe we’re only at home when we’re seeking.

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