Nostalgia. There’s this particularly poignant scene in the show Mad Men that has always stuck with me, where Don Draper describes the Greek root of the word as ‘the pain from an old wound.’ A beautiful past where you loved harder, hadn’t been hurt as much and everything was fresh, new and exciting. It is all the more breathtaking and bittersweet knowing you can never go back to that time, except in your memory. A Will Away seems to be a band founded on that uniquely pleasant pain. The Connecticut quartet’s new album Here Again was released on March 10 through Triple Crown Records, and is a maturation of pop punk ethos and alternative rock hooks.
The title track starts the record on a high but heavy note. Tightly knit to the overarching wistful tone of the record, the words ‘We will never be here again’ hit home, and hit hard, amidst an anthemic chorus and melodic verses. Although the transition between these sections isn’t particularly smooth, the dynamic contrast is welcome. This is the sound of pop punk growing up and realizing that there’s more to life than skate boards, pizza and leaving your hometown, whether we like it or not.
“Pay Raise” is not a particularly rousing follow-up to the emotionally charged opener, whereas “Agoraphobia” seems to explore social anxiety to a soundtrack of rousing riffs and saccharine hooks. With their chiming guitars and paradoxically reflective energy, “Well-Adjusted” and “Caroline” hearken back to groups like The Maine or more recent Blink 182.
A Will Away close the record with the longest, softest song on the record, “Something Special”. This first point might not mean much, considering that this finale doesn’t even push three and a half minutes. However, with a Death Cab For Cutie-vibe, the equally snarky, bitter and inspirational lyrics are juxtaposed with soft acoustic strums to create a meaningful, albeit brief, piece with an emotional impact that lingers long after the album ends. The snide and introspective verses capture a snapshot of A Will Away somewhere between adolescent indignation and the existential angst of young adulthood.
Beyond “Here Again”, this album took some time to fall into place for me. I was originally let down, hoping for something hyped up on youthful, romantic angst but finding a record that is thoughtful and introspective. Beginning the thirteen song collection with such an anthem made many of the slower and softer songs that followed initially pale in comparison, no matter how mature and well-composed they were. However, as I walked home from the last class of a hard year, enjoying the warmth of the sun after a long winter, the album finally made sense; sometimes we can only fully experience the moments worth remembering after they’ve passsed.
Notable Tracks: “Here Again”; “Agoraphobia”
FFO: The Wonder Years, The Maine, Blink 182