In the front of Camille De Toledo’s essay Coming of Age at the End of History, the author includes a paragraph before his argument begins, that reads:
How long do we have to go on apologizing for being romantics? Why not stop right now? Here. Boom! All of a sudden. Let us make the desert green with lyrical trees and mocking jays. Let us abandon irony and the fear of naiveté. The cliché is not kitsch. It’s merely pretty. So, what do you think?
The text itself deals with the commoditization and dilution of dissent and the effect it has on contemporary youth. The result: Irony and cynicism. But wait! It doesn’t have to be that way. What if we decided to let down our guard? What if we listened to De Toledo and celebrated life for the wonderful gift that it is?
This week’s edition of Tuesday Tracks does just that. “We Have Everything,” the first single off of Young Galaxy’s new album Shapeshifting is a dance-inflected piece of dream pop that is brave enough to be earnest. When vocalist Catherine McCandless sings “I wept when we parted/I wept when we united/in poverty, my love, we have everything,” she does so without the slightest smirk.
But that isn’t to say the song isn’t fun. Yes, Young Galaxy are romantics and unabashedly so. “We Have Everything” is washed in expansive, dramatic layers of synths and drum machines, but beneath it all it’s still pop music, and really good pop music at that. There are certainly a few cringe-worthy lyrics hidden in there—but in a way, that’s why it works. Sincerity shouldn’t come off as slick or cool; in fact it should be a little awkward.
It’s kind of what makes Arcade Fire so special too. For anyone who has seen them live, as wonderful as their music is and spectacular their performances are, despite being in the biggest band on the continent right now, Win Butler just isn’t a cool dude. But that’s good; the fact that he can sell out Madison Square Gardens and still remain a bit of a misfit is exactly what makes them special.
It’s that awkward earnestness that elevates “We Have Everything” as well. The song itself is fairly simple, it’s about appreciating the little things in life and—as the video emphasizes—how fleeting those moments can be. Sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that sentimentality still exists in contemporary culture. I’ll take a heart on a sleeve over a tongue in a cheek any day.