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LILY GRAVE ‘HARD TO BE’

Ah, yes. The classic ‘coming of age’ tale. Generally riddled with physical trials, intellectual tests, and emotional tribulations, the jumping through hoops of modern-day growing up is one with which we can all empathize.

Your parents instill certain values in you, bolstered by behavioral education and modification. “Do your homework right after you get home from school,” they say, walking you home from your bus stop across the street. It’s important to establish a strong work ethic. It’s important to make a good first impression. These are the things that make you a reliable student, spouse, employee.

So you’re an active participant in class discussions. After an afternoon snack, you go over your Spanish flashcards listing new vocabulary related to personal hygiene. You practice the right-hand part for the Alegretto Sonatina that your piano teacher circled in with her signature Sharpie. You wait with Harry for his train at platform 9 ¾. Rest, rinse, repeat.

And then one day, it’s finally come. The day when you’ll leave this small town. The day you’ve been waiting for, the moment you’ve been dreaming of. Your stomach lurches in anticipation, riding up the rickety wooden rollercoaster whose name you once knew but have since forgotten. Your best friend squeezes your hand in anticipation. You feel the pulse of her heartbeat through her nailpolished thumb. And as the pressure of her hand relaxes, she unboards the vehicle. “I’ll see you soon,” she says, turning away to in sought of a waterslide at the opposite end of the park.

Lily Grave’s “Hard to Be” marks the introduction of a new chapter. A realization of what was always there but never recognized, the stark impact of real knowledge emerging from the cushy slumber of naiveté. “It’s hard to be,” sings lead singer Mike McVeen. Providing a window into their forthcoming record Absurd Faces, “Hard to Be” illustrates the disillusioning nature of new perspective. With age, creatures that were once playful and well-intentioned reveal new subtleties, cracks of imperfection riddling their true nature. The album cover portrays these beings á la Max’s imperfect imaginary friends in ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ — strange, fractured, but unquestionably friendly — a confusing mix of character composites that is altogether human.

Examination of the truth can be quite terrifying. Upon receiving new nuggets of clarity, one can begin to question the good will of the world, and the trustworthiness of Fate’s wheel. “I don’t know why good people have to die / when surely you’re in a good health,” remarks McVeen.

Examination of your own situation’s truth can be even more terrifying. Stopping to reflect on what matters to you, and whether your current state of being instills those values. Perhaps the foreboding of external influences has gotten the best of you, and you’re “sitting here in the dark  / feeling like [you’re] someone else…” Yet, you never cease to remember the people that you love, “the people that [you] can’t forget,” albeit the uncertainty surrounding their own lives and when your and their paths will once again cross.

Yet, “time keeps on passing by.” And what can you do, except ritualize this sort of rumination. Make sure that the life you’re living is what you intended, that your guiding principles and connective tissues remain indicative of your true self. Despite the depressive weight of this self-reflection, McVeen remains steadfast in his beliefs — “you know that I’d rather die than to play another part in what I don’t want.” Having one more cry in recognition of “the loneliest kind of truth,” McVeen continues, chorused guitar melodies lining the way to the next track (“Soak,” available 31st August as Track 3 on Absurd Faces).

– Lana


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