Disappointment certainly ranks high as one of life’s most unpleasant experiences. As someone who has lived through more disappointing moments than I’d care to recount, I can confirm that there is nothing worse than having your expectations dashed by the brute and impersonal force of reality, particularly if there was a good amount of emotional stock riding on a specific outcome.
There are times when you might brush things off and console yourself with knowing that whatever was to blame for your plan’s derailment was totally out of your control, and therefore inevitable. But other times the weight of personal responsibility for a particular result only enhances the feeling of defeat. This is what’s colloquially known as adding insult to injury, and it can make dealing with disappointment feel like a walk in the park.
For the Brooklyn-based alt-rock sextet Glom, this failure to rise to the occasion while extinguishing any hopes for a desired outcome serves as the inspiration for their track “Mint” off their sophomore release Merit.
A minimalist, dreamy and boppy number that features crisp and heavy bass work, distorted guitar lines, lulling synthesizers, and echoey vocals, “Mint” tackles what seems like a major upending of expectations brought about by personal inaptitude in three short acts.
Singer Peter Beiser sets up his narrative by introducing us to the two participating characters through the voice of a diffident and anxious protagonist:
“Upstairs she rises peacefully
I can’t believe it’s me
That she brings to her door.”
From the onset, it’s clear that the narrator feels a strong sense of elation comparable to the feeling of walking on air as he gets a long-awaited chance to pay a visit to a love interest at her home. Having anticipated this moment, the speaker informs us of his resolve to ensure that everything goes according to plan:
“I want to make things seamlessly
Before adding that:
“To know she’s sinking
Knocks me straight to the floor.”
These last two lines, though ambiguous, lead us to infer that this woman is someone whom the speaker cares a lot about and who may not be going through the best of times.
Maybe the speaker is there as a friend to provide emotional support. Maybe he’s there for a rebound he hopes to turn into something that’s longer-lasting. Or maybe we’re dealing with a little bit of both. What’s important to us is that we know that our protagonist has a clear goal in his mind and that it involves making sure things go smoothly while remaining supportive and endearing.
“I squeeze the joke, I’m breathing”
Our hapless swain fills us in, leading us to conclude that neither charm nor tact is part of his seductive wheelhouse before we find out that:
“Through clouds the color mint
Knocks me straight to the floor.”
Aside from the fact that this might seem like a strange and confusing way to close out the narrative, it’s obvious that things don’t end well for the narrator. Not only does the outcome not shape up as expected, but it’s clear that his inability to shake off his anxiety played a huge role in that.
It’s also clear that he’s well aware of that fact, maybe a little too aware, to the point that even the most insignificant and unrelated event like the appearance of a mint-colored item is enough to disarm him completely and remind him that the gig is up.
There is nothing he can do to prevent the impending feeling of distress and frustration that’s ready to consume him. The same life-denying feeling that Beiser and company feel comfortable enough alluding to briefly, before moving on to greener and more pleasurable pastures.