Fair warning: this is – as always – an unauthorized account of a record created by somebody other than myself, making many assumptions and interpretations and imparting extensive personal perspective on a piece of art.
Tim Lannen has been on the periphery of my NYC rock world for a long time – with his band The Diggs in the 00’s I saw him play live several times and was generally aware of what he was up to, but didn’t know him personally. Through the years and my friendship with Brian Sendrowitz of Beat Radio, Tim kept popping up. When I got the chance to hear his new album, Collarbone, it quickly became obvious that I needed this record in my life (and the label).
We’ll break the seal here by addressing the technique – possibly inadvisable but I’m drawn to it over and over so I want to call it out – Tim has fantastically truthful, relatable, and simply poetic lyrics, and he imbues them with so much life through repetition and dynamics that each song becomes a mantra. There’s almost a one-sided conversation going on here – Tim’s calling himself out in most songs, for an action or a thought or just simply a way of existing that makes existing, well, harder. Now, he might NOT actually be talking to himself – that’s just how I hear it (projecting much?). Was it somebody else who never learned how to learn, who held themselves back or didn’t reach their potential – but again, that’s all of us, sometimes. “Don’t worry about it I did that too Don’t worry about it.”
There’s grief here. A big, heavy grief. Not just in the abstract – of missing your past self, your missed opportunities, people who drifted away or ran away (or who you drifted away from), but very real, very hard loss of people and love. And it’s all right here, laid out in beautiful tribute of song. “There’s last chances all over my story.”
Sometimes, it feels like self-flagellation. “I show up on time. It isn’t enough. I always miss details.” I know this to be true, actually, both the fact that he’s a timely person who you can count on showing up, but also that hey, sometimes the details can get lost, but it’s forgivable. The self-awareness and willingness to name these things is powerful, and exactly what makes me shake my head in agreement – and sometimes disbelief that it’s actually being said out loud – because everybody feels many of these things.
It’s relatable, sure. The lyrics are solid, sure. But there’s one more thing. This is an incredibly huge rock record. I mean ripping guitars and big, tasty bass runs, and bombastic drums – whatever else actual music writers say about stuff that sounds good and feels better – it’s all here, in one unassuming package of faulted splendor. “Something new needs to happen, and if it doesn’t, alright.”
Take care of yourself.