Artist: The Killers Album: Wonderful Wonderful Year: 2017 Grade: B-
In Brief: The Killers are probably always going to strike me as a highly inconsistent band. I can’t decide whether I want them to be more serious or more silly, and they often swerve in one direction when I’d expect them to go in the other. But they make a good case for both sides of their personality on their fifth album, which shows some genuine maturity in places without casting off their fun, glammy side. I’d say it’s their best work since Hot Fuss, actually.
“Movement” is the word that comes to mind when I think of the late spring and early summer of 2010. It’s a freedom that I almost feel like I was taking for granted, now that I’m thinking about it from the perspective of 2020. The month of May started off with a weekend trip to Vegas. In mid-June, I surprised Christine with another weekend trip, this time to Colorado, where we managed to cram in a National Park visit and one of my “bucket list” concerts all in a single day. In between the two, we moved to a new apartment – only 2 miles away from our old place on Granada near the train tracks, and still technically within the city of Alhambra, but close enough to its northern boundary to have a more peaceful “San Marino ambiance”. On the surface, we were turning over new leaves and doing a lot of fun things, and life was good. Deeper down, more of an unsettling sort of movement was going on. I can still remember the exact moment when a “dark epiphany” hit me that sent me into an emotional tailspin that I’d struggle with on and off for the better part of the next two years. As much as listening to this set of songs instantly brings back my excitement at the newness of our surroundings during that time, it also reminds me of some questions that haunted me at the time – things I would have never thought in a million years I’d ever have to wrestle with.
A lot of these old playlists I made for myself are an interesting window into what I was thinking and feeling at the time. This one is especially so. Amidst a lot of the usual “this song was fun and bouncy and maybe a little bit snarky” fare that tends to grab my ear in pretty much any stage of my life, I can tell as I go back and listen to some of these songs that I was really wrestling with deeper concepts of legalism vs. grace, a death in the family and the thoughts it left me with about what sort of legacy I’d leave behind when it was my time to go someday, and some of my own hopes and fears about one day becoming a parent. Looking back and trying to figure out what my younger self wanted to remind me of when he picked these songs has been quite cathartic, actually.
In with the New:
Robert Randolph & the Family Band
This is the last mix that was made during my first long-term relationship. A lot of the songs represent the longing I felt at the time to make it work and my ill-advised attempts to patch it all together. Yet, when I go back and listen to these songs, instead of reliving a lot of anguish over how it all slipped through my fingers, I instead recall the growing satisfaction with solitude that I was beginning to learn back then. A lot of my happiest moments in those days were spent by myself. Some were prayerful, some were exploratory, and some were just plain relaxing. Some of these songs were the ones that helped to prepare me for a difficult process of letting go.
In with the New:
The Benjamin Gate
Kevin Max (as a solo artist – appears earlier with dc Talk)
Out with the Old:
There’s so much joy and beauty that comes rushing back when I listen to this one. I finally had my own car, and could explore all I wanted in my free time, which led to a lot of peaceful afternoons spent hiking and impromptu visits with friends. Despite my fears that the summer ahead would be lonely without Sharon around, it turned out to feel like my first real summer of freedom. I also get strong memories of my wide-eyed wonder as I got to visit places I’d never seen before.
In with the New:
All Together Separate