So Much For The Afterglow

Band: Everclear
Album: So Much For The Afterglow
Best song: “Everything to Everyone” is very catchy.
Worst song: “Hating You For Christmas” is as dumb as the title suggests.

Recency bias is a funny thing. Because I want to rewrite my own history, I tend to claim my high school years were soundtracked by a combination of underground 80s/90s punk (Big Black, Naked Raygun, Rodan, Fugazi, etc.), classic rock/punk (The Who, the Kinks, Beatles, Clash, etc.), prog (mostly Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and King Crimson) and, eventually, era-appropriate indie rock (this is where my love of Smog, Tortoise, June of 44 and the like started). That’s certainly the vast majority of the story, but it is not, shall we say, the entire story.

I really loved Everclear in high school. I saw them live, interviewed Art Alexakis and even wore a South Park Everclear t-shirt.

There’s part of me that wants to own this, but I will defend myself by saying that I was also an idiot teenager. Owning it now is moronic. In writing this post, I re-listened to So Much for the Afterglow and… it isn’t terrible. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever heard, but it’s many of the things I don’t enjoy about punk rock; it’s immature, angry for the sake of itself, very structurally simplistic and lyrically dumb.

Pretty consistently, I say that punk rock is music for teenagers and Everclear is a particular flavor of that, with So Much for the Afterglow being peak Everclear. There’s the notion that Alexakis’ songwriting speaks for all of us who grew up in tension-filled houses on sunny streets, while feeling universal for all (but really only white and male, as I’m realizing now) teenagers. Teenage boys are angry and this record speaks to them. They are also dumb.

But, the record is a space in time, isn’t it? The mid-late 1990s were a wasteland of good mainstream rock music (no, I don’t like the Smashing Pumpkins. Why do you ask?) after Nirvana, basically, broke the mold in the earlier part of the decade. So, why wouldn’t a band like Everclear — a similar power trio, but certainly less — try and fill that void? Green Day took a shot, too and occupied a similar space, albeit a space with more lasting success. And yes, I think Green Day sucks, too.

“Everything to Everyone” is catchy as fuck, “Normal Like You” fits the Prozac Nation mindset of the mid-90s as well as anything and “Father of Mine” has some cool era-y reverb production. The singles are fun. Everclear was a fun band to like when I was a teenager; I just wonder if anyone still listens to them.

Jesus, I’m so glad I’m 33 and not a teenager anymore.

Looking back, I prefer to think myself a very mature 16-year-old who listened to Perfect From Now On, Sex Style with a detached irony, Fake Can Be Just as Good, and the like. In reality, I listened to The Fawn, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One and Either/Or (mostly Either/Or, on fucking repeat), but I also loved Everclear. I guess it’s part of growing up.

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