The XYZ Affair found their way onto our radar with a slime-filled Nickelodeon-packed “All My Friends” video. The Brooklyn band’s new Trials EP includes standout “Evening Life,” a song that caught our attention before its video clip was even completed. This week’s Drop features the T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and Minor Threat-referencing anthem. We asked frontman Alex Feder about the song’s depiction of the poetry of youth culture.
“Evening Life” is meant to poke fun at the lasting effects that being straight edge as a teenager have had on my social life as I’ve gotten older. Maybe I watched too many episodes of “Behind The Music” as a kid, but for some reason the whole straight edge concept resonated very strongly with me when I was younger. It’s pretty hard to remain straight edge through college, considering that EVERYBODY parties. But somehow the ideas behind it became so deeply ingrained in me that I could not shake a general discomfort with drinking, partying, etc, even long after I’d given up writing X’s on my hands. It’s resulted in some pretty funny social habits, so I decided to create a character that is the more extreme version of myself and write a loving and comic tribute to Minor Threat.
The song is set up in a sort of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”-esque fashion: the narrator is looking back on his young social life, lamenting the negative effect that being a straight edge has caused. Summer parties are the ultimate in good timey-ness, and even then he’s always looking for a way to stay home (in this case, he is assuming that everybody else will be having such a good time and will be so intoxicated that they won’t even notice his absence). Throughout the song he’s attempting to assign the blame for his awkwardness on everybody else. He quotes “The Emperor of Ice Cream” in an attempt to discredit youth culture on a whole as being silly and vacuous. He quotes “Prufrock” first as a way to again criticize everybody else, then again to state his old-soul feelings of isolation (combined with Minor Threat, “I grow old, I grow old, I’m out of step with the world”). The quotes are intentionally pretentious, because they are meant to be dishonest: much as he hates to admit it, the narrator is fully aware that his inability to enjoy himself is his own fault … This description makes it sound way more serious than it’s intended to be.
You can find out more about the new EP here.