When I was in high school, I often idealized my late twenties. I’d fantasize about how many sold-out tours Adam and I would complete, how strong I’d finally feel in a relationship, how well my first work of towering genius (read: zombie rock opera) would be received. Of course, I’m not where I thought I’d be – I have no band, I’m just on the other side of really hard breakup with a best friend, and it’s been years since I wrote about biters. But I’m living in a city I love, doing improv shows a couple nights a week, and staying connected with Adam through StGA. A lot of priorities have shifted and trying to figure out the difference between happiness and satisfaction has taken a metric fuck-ton of adjusting. I’m not talking about the anxiety of a dream deferred. I’m talking about the feeling of worthlessness that comes with the (often self-imposed) conclusion that you just don’t have what it takes. Or worse, that you wasted what finite amount of potential you had.
It was through this perspective that I listened to “86’d in ’03,” the new single from Boston trio-turned-duo Bent Shapes. Musically, the track finds easy company with Vampire Weekend and Born Ruffians – the instrumentation is centered as much on rhythm as it is on melody. Andy Sadoway‘s double duty on drums and bass is a key driver in the playful energy that underlies Ben Potrykus’s darker language. Stylistically, Ben is an engaging front man whose delivery tends more towards crooning, which is a nice break from the yelps that typify the genre.
What truly offsets Bent Shapes, however, is Ben’s lyrical bravery. Though he tries to not take himself too seriously, Ben paints a clear picture of what unchecked anxiety looks like when it’s able to run rampant in an average headspace. This cognitive dissonance is illustrated in the tension between his words and the music that backs them. Though they come from two completely different tonalities, the summery groove of the track helps round the edges of lines like “And I feel ill trading toxins for talking / Wrestling with doubt, well, it’s all about shadowboxing.” As Ben noted in his recent Vanyaland interview, while Bent Shapes isn’t interested in losing its sense of irreverence (the Nirvana reference definitely toes a weird line), “86’d in ’03” shows that they may be stepping up the vulnerability in their next full-length.
Pick the 7″ up here, from People In A Position To Know.