We hate to break it to you, but there’s a chance that no music you hear from now on in will ever move you as much as those records you heard in your formative years. Despite what the Daily Mail tell us, it’s not that music isn’t as good as it was, “back in my day”, the problem, whisper it, is probably you. Sorry readers, we appreciate you greatly, it’s not your fault, you’ve just become cynical, wrought by the ravages of age and are now simply slaves to nostalgia.
It’s not just you, we all do it. Sure we might still be actively seeking out new music, still raving about the newest, hippest, sounds – but stick us in a night club, shovel a couple of drinks down our throats, and we’ll still just want to scream The Rat at the top of our heads, form a sweaty, circular throng to Common People, and pull out the most embarrassingly poor quality “shapes” to Blue Monday.
Nostalgia is a natural by-product of age, our minds way of dragging us back to the comfort blanket of our formative years. The Hacienda was probably a great night club, but let’s be honest with ourselves, 90% of acid-house records played in the day-light hours in 2017, sound absolutely woeful. Brit-Pop might have been great in 1996, but who still listens to Dodgy, and when he sings, “if it’s good enough for me”, really doesn’t question if it actually was good enough for anyone. Nostalgia is a powerful drug, and we say go with it, if you like something, who cares if it is good – if the Venga Boys, A-Ha or even, shudder, Creed, make you happy then go for it – we’re not judging…much.
In her own words, Caroline Lazar used to be for a suburb outside Atlanta, was then from another suburb outside New Orleans, and is now from a University in Miami. Aged just four she was put into piano lessons, where her teacher would paint her fingernails different colours to coincide with the white keys. Eleven years later, via learning to play classical saxophone, and being better than any of the boys, Caroline had her teenage heart broken, “I couldn’t believe a boy who held my hand one time didn’t love me”. From there Caroline began to write poetry, and started putting those poems to song, something of those formative writing sessions still remains in her words now. There’s still a certain wide-eyed optimism to the way she writes about love, these are songs of heartbreak written without a hint of cynicism and from a place where love remains an inevitability.
Those songs will see the light of day next month, when Caroline releases her debut EP, Nevermine, through the ever excellent My Little Empire Records. The release may compromise just four songs, but it hangs together beautifully as a collection of ideas. Caroline’s biography shares numerous fabulous insights into her life, from the fact she eats avocado on toast for lunch every day, through to her living arrangements (three friends, one cat), but perhaps most telling is her love of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, which she reads at least once a year. Caroline’s lyrics share something of Plath’s doomed romanticism; as she sings on the titular Nevermine, “watch your breath rise and fall, hoping one day you’ll be mine to lose” or the flawed optimism of Cold’s closing line, “I’m sure you’re here to stay…this time”, which she notes wearily, as if trying to convince herself rather than the listener. Nevermine is like a snapshot of Caroline’s own life, as she puts it, “they’re the most vulnerable, scary, fragile parts of me that I wrapped up in a pretty melody and disguised with metaphors”. Though listening to her beautifully honest sounding words, we’re not sure Caroline truly disguised them at all.
Musically Nevermine is an intriguing record, a juxtaposition of new and old; there’s something classically American in her rich folk-tinged melodies and gently plucked guitars, yet these songs also sound remarkably modern, full of dense beds of synths, processed vocals and Caroline’s own, disorienting spin on a big pop-chorus. There’s fascinating moments throughout; the way Cold builds from a muted percussive guitar line, through marching drum beats into a dark synth-led breakdown, Trigger that recalls the emotionally wrought dark-pop of Magana, and the fascinating curve-ball Lullaby, a slice of Gallic pop, where Caroline comes across like a fusion of Serge Gainsbourg, Tom Waits and Elbow’s sublime, The Fix. Perhaps Caroline’s sound is a result of the musical landscape in which she exists, a world where you can with a click of a button have a record collection that includes Chopin and Bright Eyes, Bob Dylan and Lucy Rose, Bon Iver and Judy Collins. Caroline stitches these influences into something fascinating, different, and uniquely her own, and most excitingly of all she’s just getting started.
Today Caroline has put together a mixtape for us featuring some of the formative tracks of her youth. Tracks that remind her of a simpler time; a time of Ferbies, low rise flared jeans, and crimped hair. Check out the tape below, and blast out those late 90’s bangers from Britney, Hilary Duff and the only soundtrack to Caroline’s sophomore year, Green Day. And throughout remember, there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure.
1. Britney Spears- Baby one more time (1998)
Britney Spears was basically my girl crush before I knew what a girl crush was. Her classic low-rise jeans and crop tops were my life long goals. I think I still know every word to this song almost 20 years later.
2. Back Street Boys- I Want It That Way (1999)
I never understood the boy band rivalry, I loved it all and would take as much as I could get. Going back and watching Justin Timberlake rock those dance moves still makes my heart skip a beat.
3. NSYNC- BYE BYE BYE (2000)
The music video to this song is so freakin’ cool, and the words are really easy to remember and fun to sing along to which are all the characteristics of a masterpiece (in my opinion).
4. Aaron Carter- I Want Candy (On Lizzie McGuire) (2000)
Every single one of my dreams came true when Aaron Carter was a guest on my favorite show, Lizze McGuire. I must have listened to this song a million times and really wanted to change my name to Candy.
5. Avril Lavigne- Complicated (2002)
This bad ass queen was the first to introduce me to a girl that wasn’t quite a Lizzie McGuire or Britney Spears. I blame any damage on my vocal chords on her songs because I was a 6 year old belting curse words at the top of my lungs.
6. Hilary Duff- Come Clean (2003)
But we are back to my OG girl. I thought this song and video was the most emotional thing in the world. For my 4th grade talent show my friend and I did a choreographed duet to this song. It was something.
7. Green Day- American Idiot (2004)
This is one of those songs I didn’t appreciate until 6 years later. My entire sophomore year of high school I strictly listened to Green Day. This song had to be added because it is more applicable than ever- can I get an Amen?
8. The Killers- Mr Brightside (2004)
Ok so I’m at a party and everyone’s mingling and talking and there’s probably some background music on and then that one guy grabs the aux cord and plays this song and everything stops and every single person in the room is belting their faces off, “IT WAS ONLY A KISS—IT WAS ONLY A KISS”. I promise you have been to at least 5 parties where this has happened, and it is always the best moment of the night.
Caroline’s new EP, Nevermine is out March 24th via My Little Empire Records. Click HERE for more information on Caroline Lazar.