By Sarah Levin
Music gives us the background roots that sprout our every move. Down to our outfits, our aesthetics, our days. Midwestern emo goes hand in hand with emotions of isolated togetherness tied with harrowing silhouettes of 20-somethings trying to catch up with age. There is something engrained in Midwestern culture that forces young people (yeah, Gen Z) to glorify the grim realities of both harsh winters and gloomy springs. This new second wave of Midwest emo has emerged like a gust of Chicago winds ripping through the fields and fields of Illinois corn.
So, what’s the root of this odd, boring pride?
Hear me out…
Allow me to explain myself.
Growing up in the center of land that is so clearly built up from the Industrial Revolution shifted my understanding of what “fun” is. I remember turning sixteen, getting my license, gathering my friends, and taking my milestone drive to Walmart. That was fun for us. Like many others, the discrete lack of events occurring within the general area forces so many teens to discover their own creativity of making boring old towns a place that could be the set of a Wes Anderson film. With that comes a lot of drinking, drug use, and eventually… music. But this review is not about the in-depth history of Midwest emo. It is not about my weird personal pride of Illinois – despite how much I find it annoying. But rather, this review is about the band Feed The Monkeys and their most nostalgic album, “Summer Fling”.
When I first heard this album, I wasn’t expecting that a group of young guys in college were capable of making such professional sounding music. They have the sound of The Front Bottoms, the lyrisicm of Modern Baseball, and the charm of Joyce Manor. They sound like the feeling you get when you close every tab after finishing an assignment. In other words, it’s fresh, raw, and beautifully Midwestern.
Their releases, like “1:49”, perfectly encompass the feeling of losing your sense of self amongst the whirlwind of growing up, becoming independent, and emerging into adulthood. Lines like “For every little step I take twenty back/ And every second I run off the track/ I’ll never give it up/ When I try making sense of who I am/ I’ll end up right where I began/ Spending every night trying to write my life” use the complex simplicity of being at a loss of self. It’s trying to rewrite your fantasy each night in your college town, all while still navigating how to properly function each day. It’s the feeling of having new experiences occurring for the first time and everything is so exciting. All you just want to do is dance in your dorm and kiss the person you have a crush on. The romanticization of the early years of college.
The rhythm of “Pizza Time!”, along with its booming lyrics – “Pinch my cheeks again/ When you were drunk on a summer night/ I feel it secondhand/ Like a ray of sun hugging me inside/ You’ve got no one to believe/ And I’m no one to impress/ Take another shot at me/ Either way you won’t miss” – describes the feeling of discomfort with your own movements while yearning for more. More touching, more drinking, more sun, more time. The nerves, the sweat, the dancing, the pounding hearts, oh the glory!
Want something slower for those nights you need to stay in and finish an essay? Paint your nails while glorifying the lack of sleep you’ve gotten for the last month? The catchy tune of “Hash Slinging Slasher” broods heavy lyrics and guitar moods that perfectly sum up conflicted feelings within a relationship. Music that speaks for you when you cannot speak for yourself is the cherry on top of good riffs and sick drum beats.
Birthed and founded in the suburb of Elmhurst, this band has pushed the limits of production. They’ve scored nothing less than clear sound and professional audio. This band is just starting out, but with their obvious natural talent for crisp production and epic lyricism, I expect them to continue towards greatness.
Whether you are bundled up trying to fight the harsh Illinois winters, or trying to hide from the scorching summer heat bouncing down on the flatlands, you need something playing in your headphones to remind you that everything, and I mean, EVERYTHING, deserves to be romanticized. So often we use music to emphasize what we cannot explain ourselves. Feed the Monkeys is where that all begins and ends.
In the end, the music is catchy, the lyrics flow, and the riffs are addicting. For a band that is relatively new, the production is wonderful. I know that this band has not reached their full potential yet, but they still have room to grow. I wish the best for them while they expand their sound. With a few more EPs and a little bit more exposure, the stars are the limit – even for monkeys.