Updated: Jan 24
Moody rock band hits the right notes in the swan song of a generation
The only scene I care to remember from Titanic depicts the ship's orchestra playing a final song together as the hull sinks in to the black water of the Atlantic Ocean. That the musicians chose to play to a panicking mass of people succumbing to a disaster was itself an act of defiance: defiance against the defining event in their lives, defiance of the specter of death itself. It was an outstanding example of the potential for human dignity to triumph in the face of tragedy, giving eternal life to those who choose it.
Athletes seem to never know when to quit, especially fighters and football players with their "live fast, die young" vocation. In evidence: the Seattle Seahawks just signed RB Adrian Peterson to their Practice Squad yesterday. Musicians, actors and models often outstay their welcome.
When is it time to move on? How do you know?
Film School is a very good Shoegaze band. Their latest album "We Weren't Here" manages to map the genre comprehensively, with emphasis on the territory most famously explored by Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. There is nothing wrong with We Weren't Here. That is to say, We Weren't Here offers nothing new.
The songs on We Weren't Here are well-crafted. The textures are pleasing, and sometimes noisey and other times reflective. The album structure is sound with peaks and valleys. Everything I once loved about Shoegaze is well-captured. The band has its bona fides, having been at this since around 1997.
I can't help but feel Film School's latest album just heralded the death of the genre. They ran one too many plays and ran out of time. Once such an excellent forgery is made public, the original naturally loses its magic.
Perhaps Film School just didn't know when to move on, like an aging starlet or a past-his-prime running back. One last role? One last run off-tackle? If it is indeed too late, the last gasp comes off as pathetic or desperate. But maybe it's us who have it wrong: maybe Film School, like Adrian Peterson are actually the orchestra on the Titanic, doing what means most to them as the world changes around them and off to oblivion. Maybe "We Weren't Here" is as much a triumph of human dignity as a work of art.
Film School plays Zebulon Cafe in Silverlake on December 3, 2021 and Tractor Tavern in Seattle January 27