When You Were Young aims to reclaim the music of our misremembered youths from the scratched mix-CDs underneath our car seats. Each edition will cover music the writer loved as a teenager before moving on to “cooler” music, whatever that means. This edition covers Thursday, and their album Full Collapse.
There’s no good way to open an essay about an album I became almost-impossibly more attached to because of a friend’s death. The whole thing is stuck in that hungry suburban amber and includes a me I both was and wasn’t back then. Writing about 16 year old me without 28 year old me getting in the way is difficult I guess. The lines blur, and my past self usually ends up sounding a lot more aware and together than I actually was.
I’ve wanted to write about Full Collapse for awhile now, and it’s been hard for me to start because this album melted onto the dashboard of my high school life and has seen a lot. From 8th grade to 11th grade there was no bigger band than Thursday for my friends and I, and no bigger album than Full Collapse. We talked about and obsessed over them in the way some of the older kids did over Nirvana. I’m not comparing the two, it’s just true. We were geeked on them. And our lives were pretty normal. Chesapeake, Virginia, is a place with little magic and you have to conjure it when and however you’re able. Most of the time that meant making up shitty songs in my friend’s barn or speeding down swamp roads and living our lives in a sort of maxed out 3rd gear. We knew there was more to us but we weren’t interested and this album said everything we needed to say about the subject.
When my best friend’s sister died it felt like everything was suspended in mid-air for a while. I don’t think any of us moved for months. And this album changed from the fuel for our drive-by fuck you’s and skipping late night curfews to the anthem for an understanding we would never quite find. It became the way we tried to rewind a car crash back into the simple gilded hours you never learn to love with someone until they’ve crumbled into a stomach-turning lack. Until they’ve hallowed into an absence. This album was the one that watched us learn that sometimes there is no beauty in death, and that poetry can give way to brute fact. It watched us get our first limp and then try to give it back. And it sat with us while a truth we did not want to learn bloomed black over us and took its place in our sky. It was the scream into the bedroom wall against an impossible-to-answer “why?”
And, in one of those strange twists you can never predict, I’ve since become friends with Geoff and listened to some of the stories around the making of this record and what it did for them. To make a long story short, it ended up meaning a lot of things to a lot of different people. But for me, it will never stop being the silence of humid nights at 100 miles per hour or the way that sadness became a metronome. It will never stop being my friend learning Low on acoustic guitar or the scars on his arms he would never talk about. And it will never stop being the sound of burning out in strip mall parking lots and trying not to drown.
One of the weird things about music that used to mean so much to us is that it still does once you spend time with it again. We grow and change but we never really stop being who we were back then. At least not completely. And right now, as I write this at 8:20 on a Wednesday night, that feels more important than album scores, or critics’ reviews, or who will be listening to it 100 years from now. Full Collapse was most of what was real to us then, and I miss those moments in the way I think that we come to miss so many things as we get older. Not so much because I’d choose to go back if I could but because I can’t anymore.
Tyler is the co-founder of Vinyl Me, Please. He lives in Denver and listens to The National a lot more than you do.
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