THE DAILY TARGUM
OCTOBER 28, 1993
Year After Year
Today’s pathos is epitomized by completely overblown, Cheeze Wiz videos like Meatloaf’s newest epic plastered heavily on MTV and VH-1. Not since “Total Eclipse of the Heart” have we been subjected to such silly music industry depression: “I’ll do anything for love / but I won’t do that.” Oh, that is just as moving as that “I’ll Be There For You” Bon Jovi song: “/’// be there for you/ these five words I swear to you/ When you breathe I want to be the air for you.” I quiver at the thought.
Both of these bands are big favorites of my sister, and back in the day, I’d hear her working out her worst depression with the soothing verse of these poet laureates. For me, however, Idaho works much better.
Taking depression and bad thoughts (like I was taught in grammar school) to an all-time high, Idaho make Year After Year more depressing than Codeine or Red House Painters, but not as outright smooth or instantly listenable. Their previous 7”’s and Palms EP were completely fucking incredible, but fifty-six minutes of the same monotonous tear jerk isn’t quite as effective as the shorter swatches of mellow. A lot like eating too many carrots that haven’t been-cleaned properly. Dull and pasty.
The best song on the disc is “Skyscrape” which is from their last 7” on Ringers Lactate. Using good judgment, they didn’t change this version from the one on the earlier release, “You know how hard you try to be respected / it’s not difficult to see why you’re not happy. “Those lyrics aren’t inherently depressing or sad, but with the accompaniment of slightly high-pitched feedback (always in key) and Jeff Martin’s lan Curtis (only deeper) voice, gosh darn if you don’t want to cry buckets o’ tears. This is a song which (for me) warrants the purchase of this album (or at least the 7”) and ranks with the Swan’s “Goddamn the Sun” and anything by Joy Division. Ow.
With this album, it’s not all that important to pick out every single song and try to analyze lyrics, because on paper they just aren’t sad. That’s their strength. Anyone could make a song like Metallica’s “One” (man, am I coming up with shitty examples), but true pathos isn’t pathetic, lame, or purposely marketable. Everyone gets depressed about different things and Idaho is only one aspect of a million. I just find them very comfortable (like the proverbial worn-out sweater that I don’t own. I just don’t look very flattering in those things). Even if this album is overdone it’s still as effective as that old Disney movie, the Fox and the Hound. Gees, that was a sad movie. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.