I have said before, and will say again, that political issues don’t have to be contained within the country they are taking place. In our modern world, many big policy changes in one country can absolutely affect another. Given this, it is no surprise that people from around the world have seemingly become more involved with American politics in recent years. That being said, not everyone enjoys being preached to about this topic. In fact, I’d bet that most people turning on their radio are looking for an escape. That’s where those who are creative get to shine the most, crafting songs with deep messages which are not immediately apparent. With “Cooler Returns,” Kiwi Jr. have successfully done just that.
Out of the gate, the song hits you with its mix of jangly electric and acoustic guitars. The drumbeat rides the toms, providing a dance-along type groove, and the bass follows. In my head, the first comparison that came to me was The Kinks. Teetering on the edge of being a straight up punk song, I feel as though the song sways back and forth between genres and eras. However, as the song progresses, more influences, such as The Strokes, creep in which continually push the song in new directions. Without wasting any time, the vocals come at you with a sense of limitless energy. Jeremy Gaudet, the band’s singer, seems to be shouting many of his lyrics at the listener as opposed to just singing them straight, resulting in a much more meaningful message given the lyrical content.
Giving much of themselves over to interpretation due to their obscured nature, the lyrics of this song seem to be getting a point across with nothing but metaphors, hyperbole and anecdotes. That being said, nothing in the song comes across as overly complicated or difficult to follow. Regardless of your interpretation, the song’s concepts and core message seems to resonate above the word choice. Despite being a Canadian-based band, the song seems to take a crack at American culture and politics, specifically in this crazy year which we call 2020. The first verse simply introduces us to this theme with the lyrics, “Superbowl Sunday / 2020 / I did not feel well / Leaving the hotel.” With that, we can now interpret everything in the rest of the song within the correct context. While many lyrics can be up to interpretation, it’s in the final verse where I find the most hard-hitting and straight-forward ones: “I am not American / But I feel the beat sometimes / When I run into the screen door / At the retreat trying to learn the new lines.” Suggesting that, even though he is Canadian, he still feels the effect of what goes on in America and the constant changing of public opinion. Pairing perfectly with the first verse of the song, the final line of the song goes, “I was never one for trying to win as a team,” which can easily be interpreted as a political statement.
Even though the lyrics have all been sung, a minute still remains in the song for a fully instrumental section. Taking an almost psychedelic turn, the soundscape becomes noisier than ever with distorted guitars and dueling melodies before things finally start to sync up into a sort of rock symphony. After one last push of energy, the song fades quickly into silence. While perfectly capturing multiple eras of influence, Kiwi Jr. have successfully crafted a modern song which stands up to any other song from recent years. Despite arguably being a political song, the way in which its message is delivered comes across as subtle and up to interpretation. From the simplistic yet hard-hitting instrumentals to the creative lyrics, “Cooler Returns” provides a little something for everybody.