I always wanted to be the face in front of me

Who says all married couples are boring?

Who says all married couples are boring?

A couple weeks ago, I finally got to see Revolutionary Road. After the movie ended, we drove home and sat on the couch (The Couch, as a matter of fact). My boyfriend asked if I enjoyed the movie. I replied, “I’m not sure if ‘enjoyed’ is the right word.”

On one hand, it’s a solidly acted story with some amazing dialogue. The gravity of some lines remains in your head for a long time after. Plus, I always wanted to see what would happen if the two main Titanic actors both survived (spoiler alert!), surpassed all external expectations, and grew up to be a charming, middle-class couple. Turns out, they would make each other miserable under the weight of their society’s customs and their personal unrealized dreams, no matter how intensely they felt for each other on the doomed ship lollipop. A romantic period piece, it is not. In fact, the bleak but sadly realistic insights the movie offers on marriage and responsibility kind of gave me the willies.

Fortunately, the same drama has not played out for the Mates of State. Band members, married-with-children couple Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel, make your teeth wince with sweetness. They tour with their daughters. They sing and play with the vigor of high school kids who’ve just formed their first band. The stories regarding the couple’s displays of affection on and off stage are notorious. Their most recent album, Re-Arrange Us,  has been around for almost a year. My first instinct, after seeing the doctor for a quick insulin shot, would be to dismiss the band’s work as precious kitsch. But like a lot of pop music, while the music evokes a light and cheerful mood, the lyrics tell a more sinister story. A lot of pop bands like to expound on love at its extremes, from the giddy headrush of first kisses to the all-consuming fog one enters when the relationship has ended. On Re-Arrange Us, despite the twee-ness of the sound, the Mates of State paint a picture of a stable, long-established couple. There’s dissatisfaction apparent in the back-and-forth banter between the narrators of the songs, lyrics that allude to restlessness and silent fights amidst a backdrop of a handsome house filled with tasteful objects. However, the ultimate conclusion is not “What do I do to end this and make myself feel better?” but “What can we do to acknowledge that something is wrong and must be fixed?” Maturity is an odd flavor to mix in with peppy piano flourishes and sing-along choruses, but it’s one that serves the overall taste really well. Plus,  it’s fun to bob your head to marital strife tempered with uncertain resolutions.

The Mates of State will play at the Wonder Ballroom on Sunday, April 19. Black Kids and Judgement Day will also play.

  • Mates of State ~ Re-Arrange Us ~ Barsuk

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