Hindsight and Peripheral Vision
Relationships are impelling things in our lives. We find ourselves mired in a network of interconnected webs of responsibility, duty, desire, lust, and love--few of them connecting where logic or reason should dictate, as the head has little dominion over the heart's desires. "The heart goes where it wills," is an oft-used maxim of mine when doling out advice of the interpersonal variety.
Even long after a friendship or relationship has ended, our brains have difficulties spilling the banks of those riverbeds cut deep into our psyches and forging new paths. It's a long, arduous process to move through our traumas, and sometimes we never quite make it to that other shore. Music, for me at least, has always acted a dual role in this cathartic process--at once providing me the oar and the strength to use it, while at the same time acting as an anchor, holding me fast to those yawning wounds or pulling me back like some inexorable rip current when a certain song comes on.
Turnover's masterpiece of emotional circumspection, Peripheral Vision, came out in 2015, and though the band released last year's Good Nature, its going to be a high water mark that I am sure will follow the band the rest of their days. The record is, in a word, perfect. And I say that rarely, particularly of low-tempo emotional pop punk. Few records have I connected to as strongly and resonated as deeply with me as Peripheral Vision has with its quiet introspection, its bitter wistfulness, its desperate hope, and its resigned despair.
"Cutting my Fingers Off", when I first heard it, hit me with a force like a tidal wave. I was in the throes of loss, as I periodically am, and, feeling particularly lovelorn and dejected, I sank into its comforting but still gutting intonations of "losing you was like cutting my fingers off." What a simple, glorious phrasing in its simplicity. Love so often can feel wrought with pain and despair that seems to handicap you at some basic, fundamental level. Its a throbbing, aching wound that makes you incapable of basic functioning. Yet at the same time, this is a narrator addressing someone, acknowledging the pain for what it is and not attaching anger or sadness towards it, merely stating it as a fact. That quiet, mature acceptance of things as they are or as they may be run's through the record. These aren't tortured screams or belaguered yowls of typical pop punk; this is something new. "Hello Euphoria" touches similar notes, possibly detailing falling in and out of a relationship, but with a quiet, resigned nature that is somewhat distant from the immediate emotions typically attached with the (sometimes violent) squalls of love. "Diazepam" meanwhile grapples with the nature of responsibility in relationships and what people owe each other. These are tough, abstract, and heartrending topics that Turnover manage to deal with delicately and gracefully while still elucidating their incredible difficulty and pain.
"New Scream" kicks in then with its desperate questioning of adulthood. Turnover is searching for a purpose--simultaneously craving and fearing a "new scream". Wanting more, fearing more. Fearing failure, fearing success. So much of adulthood has felt to me a pull between these polarities--constantly wanting more, seeking more, but having the ability and desire to deal with less...wondering if we are wasting our time, going about our lives the wrong way.
The brief respite "Humming" provides as it chronicles an initial fall into love is quickly followed up by the latter half of the record, which makes plain the record's intention. The one-two-three punch of "Take My Head," "I would Hate You if I Could," and "Intrapersonal," all offer the record's most outright angst and soaring choruses, but even these are restrained. These aren't your "Seventy Times Seven," or similar song's spouting of anger and vitriol. These are easily empathized with moments in all f our lives--haunted by our lovers and former friends as they float in and out of our lives, consciousnesses, and unconsciousnesses. These people, long gone and out of the limelight we still feel like phantom limbs, we still see affecting our worlds like figures at the edges of our vision.
Turnover may never overcome the high water mark they set with Peripheral Vision, but god damn what a high water mark to have. I always say the best kind of art is art that creates empathy and there's no way this record could do otherwise.