The Vivids // Drugged out & Bloodless EP
Recommended Track: Black Hair Red Lips
I’ll tell you what I’m doing right now: I’m in sweatpants before 8pm, making grands biscuits for dinner.
Am I eighty-five? The short answer is no. But every once and awhile, when life reaches a point of what could be coined “interminable complacency” it feels like I might as well be. Ahh, but not all is lost. The Vivids’ latest EP, Drugged Out And Bloodless, is on it’s sixth or seventh spin, and I’m starting to feel restless.
On the surface, The Vivids come across as many things, not the least of which is abrasive. That’s not necessarily a negative, it’s just that the most aggro sentiments in songs like “Just An Illusion” or the title track arise from nowhere and seem to be directed at the listener specifically and not the world in general. This wouldn’t be nearly as disconcerting if the recording quality was more garage and less bedroom. What’s the difference? The difference is that it’s totally cool to ride your bike past someone’s garage and have a listen to their grievances. It’s totally NOT cool to walk into someone’s bedroom unannounced, plop down on their bed, and invite yourself into their private musings.
And that’s what Drugged Out and Bloodless tends to feel like. There’s an uncomfortable dissonance to these recordings where I feel like a trespasser – one who can either fuck off or come the hell in and close the door behind me. To be honest I can’t decide whether I like that or am repelled by that, but then, I got biscuits in the oven so my priorities are skewed.
So, what happens if you take a chance and walk into this random-ass bedroom? Well then, you begin to suss out that beneath the post-punk veneer, removed from the manic baselines (which are excellent) and drums, the lyrics are the marrow, the conceptual nucleus that harmonizes all components of The Vivids. Of course, there’s lot’s of yelling and shoegazey jangle, so it will take the average human brain a few listens to figure that out, but once realized, it will inevitably lead to an audience full of people fist-pumping to statements like “the world isn’t always yours/somewhere someone is laughing” or “what’s going on in LA? Fuck you!” or “under the law, over the line/ nothing getting closer/ coming all the time”. It’s dark in this bedroom, dark and somewhat violent, but the violence is palpable in ways that let you know you’re still alive. Even the most dance-ready track, “Black Hair Red Lips” boasts the deliciously ominous “her secrets have secrets”. Bottom line: it’s passionate disillusionment at it’s best.
If you’re not hip to the bedroom metaphor I’m trying to get going, perhaps you would spin this EP before doing any of the following:
1. Prepping to go out for a night of reckless antics while sarcastically asking friends “what’s going on in LA?”
2. Having a montage with those friends that includes some streetlight lens flare and tipping of trashcans. Oh, we’re 20 in this montage.
4. Making mistakes.
5. Drinking beer at dawn.
As I gaze back at my biscuits, slowly rising all flaky and golden brown in the oven, I’m disappointed in myself for this cozy lifestyle, for the resistance to coming up with new questions and digging deeper for answers or lack thereof. THAT’S the gift The Vivids give with their EP. It’s a reminder that discontent breeds action, and complacency is dangerous when unchallenged. And true intimacy, dealing with that real junk that’s inside people’s brains and souls, is sometimes messy and repellant and unpleasant in general, but worth exploring.