Human memory is a funny thing.
Every New Year I go in positive. Then every January I remember how horribly cold, dark, and depressing those days can be, and how a task list of a million new ways to change my life is unsustainable. Next year, though? I’ll do it again.
You could say this about a lot of things: the honeymoon phase of a new relationship covering up the inevitable stew you’ll simmer down into. Who knows, you might get the most delicious, melded brew – or, all the bitterness you’ve slowly poured in will turn it rancorous and sour.
But it’s also pretty awesome. I get to enjoy summer vibrantly because I don’t spend a second with thoughts of dead winter. I get to love vividly because I don’t allow the fizzle of the last relationship take away from this one, in front of me now.
Western Canadian band Parkland is all about striking balance between disparate ideas: finding a place of sacred connection rather than division. January has as much a place as July: the crush as much worth as the long-beloved.
Their single, “Trainwreck,” which plays second off their eponymous debut album, is all about finding hope and belief in those conflicting moments in life where everything exciting seems to become mundane and hopeless.
I’ve come alive
Been rectified, by my best buds
Fine, come July
Then those sunny nights will warm me up
Lead singer Will Quiring dives directly in with a gravelly, wispish voice; his look FINNEAS-like, for a moment I wonder if Billie’s brother has gone Americana. The accompanying music video invokes the sacred space of those ordinary moments we’re forced to slow down and face ourselves. Faced with immobilizing quiet (in the MV, during a carwash), the feelings of frustration, loss, and yearning burst.
“And I’ll bring a trainwreck to the table” sings Will. Even if everything can’t be perfect – even if he can only stand up with the aid of friends and the hope of summer – he’ll show up.
The introduction of the pedal steel from Ian Cameron is sweeping & cathartic; his arrangement adds body to the skeleton as the narrator stumbles for footing. Janelle Moskalyk‘s vocals in the second chorus, echoing, “And I’ll love you ’til my time’s up,” is a stunning addition full of life, clarity, and flavor – while her own, her voice carries the delightfully sonorous, bird-like quality of Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner.
A unique aspect of Parkland is its sprawling sound, all at once folk, emo, indie, country.
Formed around Will’s solo work and then later rearranged by the individual compositions of bassist Jerms, guitarist and harmonist Janelle, pedal steel-player Ian, Jeffrey on drums, and Steve on keys and vocals, the band could have easily devolved into a bowl of mosaic glass unable to be pieced together.
But Parkland somehow made all the pieces fit.
If you’re looking for a band who will understand and validate the winter blues, Parkland is it. And if you’re looking for a song to have the most melodramatic and cathartic rock out to in the car: this is the one. We might not look as cool while doing it, but hey, isn’t that the point of the song? Bringing our trainwreck to the table?
So maybe I didn’t say the full story earlier. Human memory is a funny thing, yes, but not just for what it forgets. Now when I look back on this winter, this song will be a memory itself – a mosaic of my own disparate emotions that, just like Parkland, will somehow fit together in the perfect amalgamation.