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To Pretend or not to Pretend: That is the Question in Sthlm Transit Club’s “Pretend”

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So sometimes, two people in a relationship know that it’s falling apart, but continue the facade of being together anyways. There are many (dumb) reasons for that, but those possible reasons are not what Sthlm Transit Club wants to talk about in their new song “Pretend.” Instead, our singer wants to question whether or not he and his significant other should pretend: hence the name of the song.

The first thing I want to look at is the album cover, which is a torn up leaf. As always, this isn’t random; rather, it reflects the nature of the relationship. The entire song talks about “faking it”, as the repeated three lines in the bridge illustrate:

We could fake it ‘til we break it,

we don’t ever have to make it

into something it’s not.

Thus, as the leaf is partially gone, so too is an essence of relationship.

Returning to the song itself, it is rather lyric heavy, but I want to take out two stanzas from the first set of verses:

Can we figure it out?

Oh, we might as well pretend.

I keep running around,

it never has to end.

Maybe we are better off

not starting at all,

maybe we will never have

to call it all off.

The conflict present is twofold: the singer is unsure if he should even try to “pretend,” and at the same time, he’s asking the very person he’s with for their opinion. In the second stanza, it seems like he’s made a decision that they should just “call it all off,” and when the chorus comes around, any glimmer of hope (sorry, I know that was cliche) is snuffed out:

Let’s pretend that we are nothing

when we truly know that we’re something,

’cause it’s easier that way.

Let’s pretend that we don’t know

where we truly are trying to go,

’cause it’s easier to stay.

Our singer knows, deep down, that there is a significant amount of potential that can be made manifest into a glorious relationship. However, pretending is easier, so that seems to be the route they are going to take, in spite of what could be if they worked everything out.

One last stanza that’s quite intriguing appears in the second verses immediately following the chorus:

Who are you fooling

with that smile of yours?

Who am I kidding,

what are we waiting for?

Notably, the singing of these lines give pause after “who are you” and “who am I,” before continuing with “fooling” and “kidding,” respectively. An accident? I think not. In light of the current contemplative topic, “who are you” and “who am I” are very real questions the singer is asking in themselves, and he does this in order to try and help him figure out how to proceed with the problem at hand.

Even with all this in mind, I think there is an underlying reason why this couple wants to pretend instead of try: they’re scared. Of what? I’m not too sure, but there is definitely hesitation to “come clean,” since there is only one true reason why one would be closed off from even those who are closest to them: fear. Perhaps they simply want to ignore those “feelings” that are hard to talk about, and stick to the fun parts of a relationship.

The latter is certainly suggested by the instrumental side. Particularly in the choruses and bridge, the tone of the band is very upbeat and fun, as indicated by the beats of the drums and bass, and the strumming of major chords played by the electric guitar. So yes, they are still having a good time, but it is only an illusion meant to shield them from the pain waiting to crawl out from behind the pleasure.

I hope they can work it out.

A THOUGHTFUL EMAIL,
ONCE A WEEK.

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