I’ve been stuck on the tempos, on Adam’s harmonica solos or the energy in the drum beats dropped, on Stuhby’s powerful, conceited vocals, shadows of unAmerican accent – and certainly on certain sets of lyrics, those most honest and vulnerable. Sure, I came on the scene years ago for their party rock sound and all that the atmosphere brings. Now the under 21 shows are obnoxious and irritating, downright terrifying. An angry puffer fish to me. But what’s the draw that lingers in my ears? Why when all my underground rock bands, Chicago-born or otherwise, have grown weary to my ear, pleasure expired, do I return to Lucky Boys Confusion, and Stuhby’s sideprojects (the short-lived Shockstars, the insecurities) with shameless anticipation?
I can’t quit on lyrics like this: “God fearing world, I’m so afraid to enter/
Haven’t decided what to do/After life, after death uncertain/Choose your side before they’re dropping the curtain“. “Something to Believe” ends in truth, without the capital T. He doesn’t subscribe. He wonders and dabbles, and asks a few of the questions that matter, but ultimately he’s scared to move and stays where it’s comfortable, in more of the same. Something about that vulnerability captivates me.
Part of it is surely my inclination, as a writer at heart, to tune my ear to the words that aren’t always forefronted. My ear creeps underneath the guitar that drives the melody, pulling apart chord progressions to get to the words that give meaning to that 4 and a half minutes. I’m moved, most often, by the journey the words take, the canvases they coat, the paths they wear down on the way to the end.
When the insecurities’ “Me and Mona Lisa” is stuck in my head all day, is that catchy pop melody the fix I need to return to 70’s rock, southern blues, Christian anything, and a sporadic Backstreet Boys throwback jam? Or will I always be hung indefinitely on those lyrics, the upbeat pop rhythms just garnish on a lyricist I can’t grow out of…?