Sex, drugs and shoegaze collide in one evolving teenage mind

Emotional Resonance is a safe place where we can go deep on what a single song means to us. Happy times and sad, good news and bad, we explore the soundtrack to our lives.

“Kiss your fear.”

It’s been an incomprehensible eight years since the shoegaze tab was first placed upon my tongue. I discovered My Bloody Valentine during that awkward phase where adolescence collides head-on with young adulthood. Death, love, mental illness and a strange family dynamic had forced me to grow up early, and around age 18 I was drowning my sorrows in copious amounts of alcohol and reverb.

My angsty, teenage fascination with punk and psychedelia — punctuated by equal obsessions with Joy Division and The Beatles — enabled a seamless transition into the seedy world of shoegaze. I remember it was Deerhunter which came first; I’d heard “Never Stops” on the radio and their anarchic flair for pop melodies was the first of its kind my fragile ears had heard. Naturally, I travelled backward from there and my pal Josh led the way with an astonishing array of CD-Rs consisting mostly of shoegaze and noise-rock gems: Slowdive, Sonic Youth, and above all, My Bloody Valentine, among the many highlights of that life-changing collection.

Coincidentally (though probably not, in hindsight), shoegaze was thrust into my world around the same time as sex and marijuana. Shoegaze juggles pleasure and chaos spectacularly — sensitive beauty hidden under blankets of incomprehension. Those who have experienced any combination of sex, drugs and shoegaze (imagine all three!) would understand how overwhelming this blend of factors could be.

Your dress
Over your head
It’s been so long

There is something about the psychology of burying myself under a cacophony of sound that is also quite appealing. Since leaving high school, I have struggled to grasp adulthood, something sociologists have tagged the “quarter-life-crisis.” My flailing attempts to juggle creativity, money, family, work, rent, bills, a de-facto relationship and a social life have, frankly, been horrible. Thus, shoegaze enables me to bury my head in the sand, ostrich-like, and ignore all of the adult turmoil swirling around elsewhere.

“To Here Knows When” best represents the manipulation of beauty and fear, those contradictory constants in my life, and is without doubt the ultimate statement on My Bloody Valentine’s momentous record Loveless. It is both the loudest and most delicate track on an album, filled with the kinds of sounds artists have spent entire careers trying to recreate. Belinda Butcher’s vocals, lost inside a tornado of Kevin Shields’ dizzying guitar, are the exact definition of subtle beauty: she doesn’t sing, she whispers. Meanwhile, Kevin is at his most primal and ruthless, bending and warping that guitar beyond meaning. It is a track deserving of much praise and hyperbole, and its importance in my life simply cannot be understated.

Your head
Come back again
To here knows when

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