3. For Against - December (1988)
If someone asked me what being a depressed outcast teen in the late 80's sounded like (and I'm speculating here, because I was born in '85), I would recommend them one of three albums:
Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation
REM's Dead Letter Office
For Against's December
Remember the coolest kids at your school, who weren't quite lame enough to be in the goth crowd, but smoked pot before anyone else, and read Nietzsche and shit, and hated everything maintstream? You were either friends with them or they scared you or both, but they were there in almost every school. These are those kids, and this is their soundtrack resonating from a transient point in the past that seems so long-gone in modern times.
For whatever bizarre, obtuse reason, this band, along with some others such as Dif Juz, get described as being "dream pop." When I think of the term dream pop, I think of bands like Cocteau Twins or Lovespiralsdownwards, Cranes, or music you can get high and make love with your steady girlfriend to because its actually 'dreamy.' For Against is very un-dreamy, discontent and confused, lucid in the most depressing way.
To me For Against sounds like a more melodic early 80s emo group inculcated with The Cure's proto-coldwave sounding guitars. The album itself is named after the most barren month of the year; the last month, the dying month before rebirth, and that alone should tell you the mood of the album: it's a brooding, loveless, hopeless one, drenched in the emotional despair of youth. This is purely subjective of course, but with the exception of the album I'm going to post tomorrow, December is the most 'nostalgic' sounding music I've ever heard. I feel like I have some memory of having heard these melodies before, feeling a certain way: sleepy, naive, curious and taken back by it all, riding with my mom on the way to school at 5am, her in her flight attendant uniform, even though I know it was probably silent except for the familiar drone of the car engine and the road ambience sneaking through tiny crevices in the rolled up windows. Every song on this album is so overflowing with feeling and I can't stress enough how much it's like stepping into a time machine from an era of days past, a niche moment in a niche corner of America in the late 1980s. Even if you were not, like myself, actually there, this record will still make you feel nostalgic for that period, and its one of those bestirring, evocative ones which conveys the kind of rich, darkened sentiments that begin when childhood ends, are strongest during our teen years, and gradually evaporate as we get older. Imbibe and appreciate it while it lasts, because it won't last forever.