When I was in high school, I wanted to get laid.
Because I wanted to get laid, I talked about “Mr. Brightside” a lot. There’d I be, leaned on the nearby school parapet, flipping a coin and giving the upward nod to passerby: “Hey, local female. Didya know Brandon Flowers is actually just being paranoid the whole time, it’s all in his head. It’s like, our imaginations can doom us, you know? This was in 2011. This worked. Now, a year after The Killers released the last album of theirs to matter, a small pair of southerners mysteriously appeared in Brooklyn and begun playing the Cake Shop NYC, a small venue that had given birth to such strange local responses to The Killers‘ popularity like Vampire Weekend and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
Whatever happened to the most Shazamed band of 2009?
On the last day of last year, Cake Shop closed. It is now an expensive cocktail bar called Kind Regards. Members of Vampire Weekend, too, would go on write songs for Carly Rae Jepsen and Beyoncé. These days, I tell people in parties that Kendrick is GOAT, whatever those words mean. In this sense, frontman and, now, only man, Jonathan Pierce is, as one profile calls him, “the sole survivor.” Where Piece has used the band’s diminishing popularity to create some of the band’s best work, using it to evoke such scenarios as not having very much money (“Money”) to wanting to be kissed again (“Kiss Me Again”), Abysmal Thoughts finds him at the, well, abyss of all that.
So, for want of a better phrase, it’s Peirce’s tumblr album, a record full of some of the most sadboi lines the Lower East Side has ever heard. Where Encyclopedia displayed a curious exuberance for a duo trending on a forgotten revival of yesterday’s kool-aid, now Peirce is all worn out: opener, “Mirror” paints a grim portrait of apartment bound depression (“I didn’t need another push towards the end/But you did it with a casual stance,” is the most remarkably Morrissey that Pierce has ever been) and a survey of the song titles that follow tell you what you need to know: “Shoot the Sun Down,” “If All We Share (Mean Nothing).” Near the end, Pierce abandons the well-dressed reserve of his forebears and just breaks down, asking listeners: “Are you feeling fucked? Cause I feel fucked too.”
Jonathan Pierce in 2010, a happier time.(Marc Broussely/Getty)
So, who has fucked The Drums? Was it you, who appreciated Modern Vampires of the City‘s use of a Souls of Mischief sample more than Encyclopedia‘s contemplation of suicide in a national park? You, who continued to attend sold out area shows by the Killers even though most of their new material is crap? Whatever happened to all those people who shazamed The Drums more than Nicki Minaj or Ellie Goulding?
Pierce’s songwriting, to some extent, is remarkable precisely because of how much it beg, nay, implores those questions. Remaining stoically inside the box of his beloved Scottish post-punk bands of the ’80s–you say Aztec Camera, he says The Wake–his question is the same that we ask ourselves as we stroll down a block of Brooklyn that gentrified five years ago. Williamsburg, that used to be so cool. Why do I want to live in Flatbush now?
Abysmal Thoughts is out on 6/16. Get it here.
Andrew Karpan is Popdust’s chief nostagist. Whatever it is you think you remember, he remembers it better than you. Follow him on Twitter.