Keep Your Heart: Seeing The Loved Ones For (Probably) The Last Time
Posted on February 22, 2016
February 22, 2016 | by Bryne Yancey
It’s weird, ten years didn’t always seem like a long time, especially when considering album anniversaries.
The world moves so much faster now, and us along with it, that it would stand to reason that we are all drastically different people now compared to a decade ago. As we put years behind us and as the years ahead of us shrink, we hopefully become smarter, more nuanced and introspective thinkers and humans, but shit, it’s a big jump. Or maybe it’s a series of smaller jumps, over and over again, all in the hopes of continuing that forward momentum. But between those jumps, there’s also more opportunity to temporarily jump back, and even if you don’t want to, or don’t think you want to, you will.
The ability to look back at something from a distance is one of the best parts of getting older. It’s not so much that we’re naively living in the past so much as we’re reflecting on it, hopefully with a clear mind and an idea that what we did in the past, and what we’re doing right now, often heavily informs our future. We read and listen to the experiences of others, and we hopefully have empathy for those experiences, but at the end of the day we have our own, and that’s largely what drives us.
In 2006, the year The Loved Ones’ Keep Your Heart was released, I was 21 and still living in my hometown, with a full-time job but few real responsibilities. I was an adult merely in the technical sense; I hadn’t grown up yet. I lacked foresight. I certainly lacked the ability to think critically about music or any other type of art or anything else, really. I was an undriven idiot. That album, along with a few others of the era, were my gateway into an entirely new plane of thought. These weren’t just stupid punk songs; they were artfully crafted, seemingly with the idea that, well, people will still be listening to them decades from now. So much punk music is very much of its era, and there’s certainly value in that sort of snapshot even now, but there’s something to be said for aging gracefully. Great songs with feeling behind them, rather than a bandwagoning on a trend, those songs are what will ultimately stand the test of time. Keep Your Heart is one of those records. It’s just as vital and catchy and surprisingly soulful as it was ten years ago, as it always was, but hell if I realized it then. It’s a record about loss and love and family, universally relatable topics perhaps somewhat atypical for a Fat Wreck Chords band, but just as relevant now as it was then and as it will be if there’s a 20th anniversary tour.
No one knows if The Loved Ones are breaking up. I’m not even sure they know yet. At the band’s final show of the KYH anniversary run at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer this weekend, Dave Hause said, “We’re not gonna be doing this again anytime soon.” He prudently left it open-ended, because bands don’t really break up now anyway. There’s the indefinite hiatus, then the reunion, then the sold-out shows, then maybe a new record or maybe another hiatus. It all spikes demand to be sure. But there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing you’re seeing a band you love for likely the last time. Of course it’s bittersweet, but at the same time, in a weird way you’re ready. It seems like the band are ready too. All everyone in that room can do in that moment—and you have to look around you, at that moment—is enjoy it, not worrying so much about what the future holds but hanging on to a thread of the past while letting go of everything else that made us young and stupid. It’s a weird feeling to attempt to quantify. Sometimes it vaguely resembles an amicable end to a relationship. Because while the music is timeless and those memories associated with it should live on forever, they might not. We’ll become busy with other things or enamored with other bands and temporarily forget and it’s fine, it’s natural. We’re making new memories every day. But we’ll see each other around.