“Drunk words are sober thoughts:” we’ve all heard this saying before. Whether or not you feel strongly about the truth of this statement, there exists a general sense that people under the influence of alcohol are like Jenga blocks. Push the right block and they all come tumbling down; push a drunk person the right way, and soon they’ll start spilling all of their deepest, most primal emotions.
Now, let me pose a hypothetical scenario. You and your significant other are having a pretty heated fight, and at some point the fight ends up with someone deciding to end things with the other. Would you rather be put through this fight and breakup after you were a few drinks in, or when you were sober? Does alcohol dull the pain of an emotionally tumultuous experience? Would the alcohol cloud your judgement in that situation, pushing you to do or say things that you normally wouldn’t? What about a post-breakup scenario: do you drown your sorrows in beer, or do you find greater solace in a clear, sober mindset?
The real answer is probably that it depends from person to person, but to Stevie Knipe, the lead singer and songwriter of indie-pop group Adult Mom, sobriety offers clarity that alcohol ultimately cannot. While an altered state of mind can be freeing, at the end of the day it’s fleeting and ultimately can feel unsatisfying. On Adult Mom’s new single “Sober,” off of their upcoming album Driver, Knipe and co. walk the listener through a story that is as painful as it is hopeful. It’s a story that gradually dismantles every perception Knipe holds of the object of the narrative, imaginary or real, leaving them with the assurance and closure that they long for.
“You’ve been sober now / For a few days and I bet that helps / You not to send me a text / That says you love me still,” Knipe sings to introduce the track, giving way to a synthpop-y drum beat. “And the only thing that I’ve done / This month is drink beer and / Masturbate, and ignore / Phone calls from you,” Knipe continues, with a line that wouldn’t sound out of place in a St. Vincent record. But, “What else am I supposed to do?” Knipe wonders.
As the song goes on, we begin to see Knipe unravel the swirling web of emotions in her head. “Because the last image of you I remember / Is you hunched over back on the side of the bed / Telling me that I shouldn’t leave,” Knipe sings plaintively. But soon they shift the lens from themselves to the bad lover, already demonstrating this sense of newfound clarity. “And the last image of me you remember / Is my hunched over back on the driver’s side.”
The musical of arrangement in “Sober” is extremely clean and, interestingly, very reminiscent of 2000s pop. With the classic bass line and the distant synthesizer chimes, the instrumentation in this track contrasts the stark, even dark at times confessions that Knipe makes as they muse over the end of their relationship: “You said that you wanted to die / Can’t you see that’s the kind of shit / I can’t be the one to decide? / But if you asked me now, I’d want you alive.” But by the song’s end, Knipe is firm and resolute: “Now I don’t even think of you / When I am sober.”
“Sober” is a song with lyrics and a narrative that is clearly extremely personal, yet intensely relatable. There’s a lot to love in this track and off of the record Driver, which will arrive on March 5th.