But they say,
“You ask too many questions
You start too many fires
You dream of resurrection
But you’re too scared to die”
I don’t know exactly what is cliché. I usually think I do. And in those moments, if I’ve heard it before, that means it’s cliché. But I believe that nothing is only organic or original. Yes in many ways we are naturally who we are, but we are also defined by what has nurtured us. Yet what I do when I hear something that does not sound different, I label it as not creative. I think this completely overlooks the uniqueness of each band and album. I also think it dismisses the immense amount of effort and skill goes into creating good music. Nothing is exactly the same, musically or lyrically. I need to stop condemning only small deviations as fatal flaws.
Why the rant? Because The Collection is a band that I would normally overlook and label as cliché. But I think that is a poor descriptor and decision. And no, I am not blown away by this record either. But there is a calming, homey, and infectious nature to Listen To The River that I refuse to let float away. The Collection sound like a more indie / less folk more modern / less hipster version of The Oh Hellos (who I believe toured with The Collection). My favorite part of The Oh Hellos is their ability to exude joy through their music. And this feeling similarly describes The Collection, while the band simultaneously addresses many serious issues lyrically.
“Mama” feels the perfect summer song on the outside, but with a deeper look, it can be understood as a somber yet hopeful divergence between a mother and a son. You felt it like an ending / But I watched it like a new scene / Different ears can hear the same thing and not agree on what it means. On the slower and tentative “No Maps of the Past”, there is frustration and doubt because of an inability to get back to the ways things were in the beginning of a relationship. I’m trying to find my way back to where we started / My tired mind holds no maps of the past / If you are the wine, then I’m the headache you part with / Leaving us blind to why we ever poured the glass.
There is a lot more thoroughness and beauty beneath the surface that can initially come across as just pretty and nice. But all pretty and nice means is forgettable. That is not how I view Listen To The River. I will remember The Collection and try to see a show as soon as possible because they are a band that exudes careful, considerate, and self-aware thoughtfulness. And that should never be considered cliché.
Favorite Songs: Mama, Birds, Siddhartha (My Light Was a Ghost), The Alchemy of Awe
Album Cover: 8/10
The Collection’s Bandcamp
Album Artwork: https://f4.bcbits.com/img/a2549176489_10.jpg