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Local H 2

| May 30, 2008 | 1 Comment

“That was one of the things about just taking something about relationships that you don’t necessarily hear in music all the time, and that [is] all too real, and that everyone goes through,” Lucas offers. “But, you don’t hear about that stuff, people would rather talk about how their love is as big as an ocean, or something stupid and that has absolutely no fucking meaning and doesn’t mean anything to anybody.”

Judging by the tone running throughout 12 Angry Months, Lucas’ choice words about love and relationships, and the way they’re handled in pop music, should come as no surprise. Thematically, Months may be H’s heaviest effort to date, devoid of the type of music-industry references that peppered previous albums. It’s a move that, according to Lucas, was definitely intentional.

“We always get noticed for lyrics that have something more to do with just music, or something more to do with the music scene,” he, not incorrectly, extends as a reason for the album’s markedly serious lyrical approach. “And it’s the kind of stuff that I think music writers pick up on because they want to listen to songs . . . that are in-jokes about music. So, it’s not like we’ve never written songs that aren’t snarky, that aren’t honest, that don’t deal with things like this. We have. But, they just don’t get a lot of play. So, one of the things was to make sure that this record wasn’t a put down about songs about California, that there was nothing on this record that could go that way. That it was going to be accepted on this term and there’d be nothing you could do.”

Not only is Months free of the irony and acidic insights into the music business, but it’s a brutally candid venture, one that finds Lucas putting himself and a bevy of personal emotions front and center.

“I think we’re really careful to just try and make sure that all the lyrics were completely 100-percent honest,” he remarks, “and nothing that was something that could have fit in just any random song. I wanted to make sure that, when I was singing these lyrics, that they were fucking embarrassing, and I didn’t want anybody to hear this stuff. And my favorite stuff that’s on any of our records is something that I’m embarrassed to have people hear at first. So there’s maybe one or two tracks on every record that, I’m like, ‘Ah, I don’t know if I can release this.’ And I was pretty terrified of this entire record, to tell you the truth.”

Part of which, no doubt, is due to the presence of startingly naked, especially by Local H standards, fare like “Summer Of Boats.” The song comes directly off the harsh and abrasive “White Belt Boys,” a terse rocker whose stomp-and-shout chorus recalls Motley Crue’s “Shout At The Devil” and barely gives up more than repeating a barbed refrain of “Hope you have a lonely life.” By comparison, “Boats” is not only surprisingly emotionally vulnerable, but an unapologetic and unabashed acoustic-tinged power ballad.

“In any breakup, you take it to that point,” Lucas begins, “where it’s like, look, obviously, it’s not all her fault, and you kind of start to exactly examine what you did to fuck this up.

“When you get to ‘Summer Of Boats,'” he continues, “you’re like, ‘Part of this is my fault, and I’ve done things,’ and the whole point is, everyone should be allowed to make their own choices, and [that song] talks about being allowed to change, so, that’s the idea of that. Once you get to that stage, you’re almost there, you’re almost home, where you can just fucking move on.”

“Boats” may be one of the most mature and accepting moments on 12 Angry Months, but it’s surrounded by the sounds of a relationship in varying states of deconstruction. March (“BMW Man”) and April (“White Belt Boys” — Lucas’ breeziest jangle-pop song since “Eddie Vedder”) examine the torturous experience of finding out your ex is dating again, and, even worse, discovering whom she’s with.

“That’s the new boyfriend section, where you meet this guy that she’s been hanging out with, and you just can’t understand how,” Lucas begins before remarking, “It’s somebody that’s so completely different than you, and you can’t understand how she could do that. You can’t understand how she could go from you to some ex-college jock, who likes ESPN and votes for Bush.”

“White Belt Boys,” especially, expands on that theme, bringing paranoia into the equation. “You can sort of see what happens at that point is that, this girl has sort of become more successful, and she’s become more sure of herself, and, you’re just totally like, ‘Fuck you. I don’t even want to know you anymore.’ And so moving on from when you meet one person that this person is involved with, you start to realize that this person could be involved with the whole city, and it could be some guy you’re drinking next to in a bar, randomly, and he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I went on a date with her.'”

It’s a scenario anyone who has ever had to wonder what their ex is up to can relate to as terrifying. And, according to Lucas, it’s an entirely justified apprehension, when he points out “Chicago’s not that big of a city, so, it certainly happens.”

Not only does it happen, but it moves the album’s story into even rougher waters, over June and July’s “Taxi Cabs” and “24 Hour Break-Up Session,” which Lucas refers to as the “dark chocolate center of the record” — snapshots of moving away from the possible acceptance, or at the very least resignation, that seemed to surface earlier during “Boats.” If the bitterness of “Cabs” and defeatism of “Break-Up” seem like a step back from the hints of calm and acceptance that surfaced in “Boats,” there’s a reason for that, Lucas counters. Originally, when considering a direction for the album, Lucas considered the 12-step program as well as the five stages of grief as possible themes, but opted out.

“The problem with the five stages of grief, it seems to me,” he explains, “is that, it presupposes that you don’t double back. You don’t skip back and forth between stages. So, once you hit stage three, you would never go back to stage two.

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  1. Sam says:

    Great review. I would have loved to have been there. It would be brilliant to see Local H live. When will they come to Britain??

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