What do you do when you are alone with your mind?
As the period of self-isolation extends further into the summer at the hands of COVID-19, I feel increasingly forced to partake in this ruminative pastime. It’s all at once a daunting, beautiful and transformative experience—my head a venue to relive past regrets, work through old issues, and to try to tackle the existential questions of being and purpose.
Titi Woo, a literal band of brothers, captures these disparate feelings as they undertake the latter with their pensive single “Where Are You.”
This track is stream of consciousness thought exemplified.
Every thought is presented as an unanswered question, quickly overshadowed by another, each with their own chorus of maybes following suit. As this process continues, the song meanders into both hopeful and bleak territories which yields itself to an overwhelming sense of uncertainty that’s only emphasized as the question-filled verse repeats verbatim. But nevertheless, there is a calming sense of recognition in seeing someone else’s mental spiral materialized through the art of songwriting.
Maybe there’s someone by my side
Someone I could trust someone
Maybe there’s something in your heart
Or maybe there’s nothing
Yet these discombobulated thoughts are married with a sanguine and rather unchanging layered guitar melody—which despite its somewhat stodgy, monotonous structure, provides a nice repose from the cluttered storm that’s brewing in Titi Woo’s minds.
This chaos layered over optimistic melodies is reminiscent of The Smiths’ entire discography—fitting since the band lists the British indie rock group as a key influence. Yet, while The Smiths have a clear imprint on “Where Are You” in terms of antithetical layered components, Titi Woo is hardly a carbon copy. Perhaps it’s the band’s ability to confidently lay bare their innermost thoughts or the track’s infectious, relatable lyrics beautifully balanced with a tinge of darkness, but “Where are you” presents a refreshing iteration of garage pop that feels uniquely Titi Woo—and rightfully so.
“Where Are You” is the second of seven songs recorded by brothers David and Jody prior to David’s death from a terminal illness. Jody has since finished the tracks, releasing what now feels like a sacred preservation of the vivid thoughts the brothers once shared.
Jody describes the songs as “almost like a Polaroid picture of my brother’s eternal youth,” which when considered in the context of “Where Are You’s” longing lyrics, allows the song to act as a vehicle for him to work through the loss of his brother and bandmate. In this vein, the song’s titular words feel like a desperate call to restore their fraternal connection.
However, the phrase where are you itself takes on endless possible meanings. Is it a rhetorical question posed to the self? A plea to God? A call to a lost love? A yearn for an unintelligible something?
I think this ambiguity is part of “Where Are You’s” beauty. Titi Woo doesn’t have these questions figured out, nor do they seem intent on answering them—but the very fact that they were posed in the first place provides comfort for those drifting through the black hole of existentialist thought.
Overall, “Where Are You’s” raw yet simplistic lyrics are like SparkNotes for the budding philosopher—they play both the role of the determinist in asking if there is a god and the existentialist who supposes we’re just running about freely. And like SparkNotes, this song feels undeniably essential and soothing to have on hand during this unprecedented era.
Thus, as I curate my playlist-turned-time capsule of my experience living through a pandemic, I will definitely add Titi Woo’s “Where Are You”—not only for its calming melody, but also for its ability to mirror my psyche as I’m forced to be alone with my mind.