The post-war concept of “home” feels more and more distant each day. The white picket fence, dog, pair of kids and smiling, but competitive, neighbors are certainly grossly propagated figments of the past. The storybook definition of home is exactly that to many members of the renter generation — a story, a work of fiction.
On their debut LP, Barely Civil attempts to redefine what it means to call something home. The Wisconsin natives find home may not be a place at all, but something within ourselves that we work with each day. Through the ten tracks of We Can Live Here Forever, Barely Civil attempts to reconcile their past.
The album opens up with the anthemic “I’ve Been Getting Headaches Lately.” The roaring vocals, “I’ll take my time, but you won’t take mine,” set the stage for the pain, bitterness and abandonment explored throughout the record.
The song’s melodic guitar work, coupled with heavy drums and group vocals, perfects the emo formula with a deep look at abandoned love.
From “I’ve Been Getting Headaches Lately,” the album begins to explore memories of the relationship presented on the opener. On the lead single of the album,“Eau Claire? Oh, Claire.” Erickson shows the abandoned home used to feel as hospitable as the beginning of a love story.
The feeling that you met someone who is right for you, someone that gives you the feeling of being at home. The melancholy of “Eau Claire? Oh, Claire.” leads to the cyclical frustration presented on “RE: Your Lungs.”
“RE: Your Lungs” tells the story of the fall of the relationship seen throughout the album. Erickson tells the story through his partner’s attempt to quit smoking. As the song progresses, the number of times his partner proclaims they have quit smoking for the final time increases.
The cyclical and painful addiction of nicotine mirrors the pain of their relationship. The couple isn’t alright, but they can’t escape each other’s vicious cycle.
Once it all goes to ruin, Erickson attempts to find himself on “You With A Cape, Me With A Baseball Bat.” Through the lively instrumentation, he finds he cannot escape his partner when trying find his own happiness.
The deep pain, resentment and self-loathing leads to the escapism of “Super 8/Marathon.” Of course, anyone who’s ever driven through Wisconsin has probably seen plenty of dingy Super 8/Marathon combinations in even the smallest towns across the state, yet this is used as the setting of escape and a moment of freedom.
The Super 8 is not a home, but the motel chain can provide an escape that gives us the security of home for a brief amount of time.
The closer, “I Am Drowning,” avoids giving a feeling of certainty or hope. Homes are difficult to build, and not just because the housing market is incredibly competitive. Homes are something that are within us. They are our memories.
They are places we’ve been. They are our friends, our enemies and people we pass on the street. These homes are fragile and they take maintenance to stay strong.
This track allows us to see Erickson’s home, one where the floorboards are breaking with an ocean beneath him. He is drowning, as many are, and can’t fight anymore. The acoustic conclusion of the album delivers a poignant look at what it means to have a home. Though the home shown is not one that can be lived in, the album attempts to build one that is.