As many of you know, one of my favorite bands experienced a significant rupture this week. Paramore lost two of its (cutest) founding members, Josh and Zac Farro, and while Haley and the other two are resolved to go forward, I can’t help feeling like I caused this. Let me explain.
I have a track record. Some people are, you know, really bad at dating and leave in their wake a trail of broken, destroyed hearts. My wake is full of broken bands, broken dreams, forgotten LPs. Since I was a teenager, the bands I’ve loved have experienced that most monumental of changes: break-up. Here, I’d like to take a moment and share my memories of the most difficult break-ups:
Panic at the Disco
I was as surprised as you were when Panic first dropped their exclamation point (Panic!) and then bifurcated into two groups: the persisting Panic at the Disco and the Young Veins, a 1950s-inspired Beach Boys redux. Their first album was equal parts The Killers and Fall Out Boy, and their second equal parts mescaline and The Beatles’ Sargent Pepper. Since the split, there’s been no activity from the half of the band I still like, unfortunately. Boys, I’m out here waiting.
You’re like, “Who’s this band?” But that’s because you’re not gay and/or don’t hang out regularly in gay bars, where this band’s campy indictment “Chelsea” was a standard for about a year. Their only release, The Orange Album, is awesome–fun pop music. A few months ago I read an update that the second album I’ve been waiting 4 years to hear isn’t happening, and Stefy Rae released a solo single for the Sorority Row soundtrack. Which I almost bought.
Veruca Salt formed when actress (and Nick Flynn’s girlfriend?) Lily Taylor introduced Nina Gordon and Louise Post, who formed the powerhouse harmonizing vocal and guitar section of this band. Their first album was notable for pairing distinctly feminine childhood experiences and pressures against a fuzzing backdrop of guitar rock. It was the 90s. We did things like that. In 1998, the women had a monumental falling out and the band, under Post’s guidance, completely reformed, but was never the same band. Gordon went on to release a single that belonged on adult contemporary rock radio, a song that probably nursed many a high school freshman through a nasty break up of her own.
Fall Out Boy
Pete Wentz (Mr. Ashlee Simpson) and Patrick Stump were the core of this band, contributing words and bass (Wentz) and music and vocals (Stump) for a few albums. They were definitely a powerpop rock band if there ever was one, but what set them apart were Wentz’s irreverent and often punning lyrics (representative song title: “I”m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Getting You Off”), but the real star, realized perhaps too late or not at all but mainstream media, was Stump’s voice. Athletic, robust, and seemingly unlimited in range, it was unbeatable in rock music. But it seems like fame, and maybe some competition, split everyone up. Wentz went off to lick his wounds with Ashlee, while Stump has tried (and ostensibly failed) to launch a solo act in which he, perhaps overcompensating, plays all the instruments.
Electric Honey was one of my favorite albums of the late 90s, and for Luscious Jackson, it seemed to represent a complete gelling of their formerly eclectic sound, influenced by pop, rock, and hip hop in equal parts. It was also their swan song, as it turned out, and the band evaporated not long after. Now, I get excited when I watch the “Beer Bad” episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (season 6), when Buffy watches the video to “Ladyfingers” while drunk out of her increasingly Neanderthal skull.
Ben Folds Five
The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner was released just as I was on the cusp of graduating from college, and its “wtf am I doing with my life” anthem “Army” was especially significant. Ben Folds Five’s blend of piano, blues, and rock, along with smarmy and/or heartfelt lyrics, was fun at best and totally gutwrenching at worst (“Brick”). They were gone too soon, and none of Ben’s solo albums ever lived up to the group’s promise.