We’re approaching four months in quarantine, and if you want to be very optimistic you can say it’s been a learning experience. For better or worse, I’ve learned a lot of things, some major, some minor. For instance, I’ve discovered that I can go for weeks at a time without wearing socks. I’ve discovered that wearing masks fogs up my glasses no matter what I do. I’ve developed a taste for those crack-an-egg kits you can use to make a nice scramble. And, most importantly, I’ve found out that being holed up inside a small house for months at a time while the world goes to hell in a handbasket isn’t great for your mental health. Who knew?
I struggle with mental health issues in the best of times, but in these past few months they’ve been coming to a head. I’ve been anxious, impulsive, pessimistic, snappish, depressed, sometimes all at the same time. When you’re stuck at home, even if you didn’t venture outside too often to begin with, you start to feel trapped, lonely, bored. There’s only so much a new hobby can do to stave off the black dog when you can’t leave the house.
“Too Happy”, a catchy and bittersweet new song by a Connecticut-based indie rock band called Similar Kind, doesn’t expressly deal with the quarantine, but it gains a new resonance in this current moment. It’s a vivid depiction of mental illness, the kind of deep depression that makes you feel like you’re chained to your bed like that one guy from Se7en. Similar Kind’s vocalist, Julia Breen, is clearly singing from experience, and that helps you relate her struggle to your own.
“My bed has become a house/with four tight walls surrounding”? I’ve certainly had that problem over the past few months, where I’m stuck for hours trying to will myself to get out of bed. “I am all of the grossest parts of myself”? Been there, figuratively (self-loathing is a hell of a drug) and literally (at a certain point I have to shower before I do literally anything else). “Some days I am happy/often way too happy”? Sometimes I get suspicious of being too happy, and I start to wonder if some invisible shoe is going to drop. Obviously Breen is singing about her own issues, not mine, but it’s refreshing to have someone get it so thoroughly.
Musically speaking, “Too Happy” is just as good. It’s become a cliche to sing about dark issues over deceptively peppy music, but “Too Happy” strikes the right balance of indie-pop sweetness and deep-seated melancholy. The guitar is bright and colorful, the production shines, and there are hooks on hooks on hooks, but there’s always a shadow, always something to remind you of how you’re really feeling. It’s honest, it’s catchy, and it’s fun; sometimes, a spoonful of sugar helps the catatonic depression go down.
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