In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing.
A few months ago, a group of my old friends from the Bay Area realized it had been a decade since we graduated from one of our schools together, and we planned a small reunion at a bar on the peninsula. At the time it seemed like a fantastic idea, since I’m still very close to a lot of people I grew up with, but I haven’t seen them in a while thanks to the post-college diaspora. But a week before the event, people started to get cold feet, unsure of who would show up, worried about seeing friends who had grown apart. And two nights before, I got a message from a friend inviting me to have a few pre-reunion beers at a house within walking distance of the bar, because nobody wants to be totally sober before talking to people they haven’t seen in a decade.
Modern Baseball’s “Your Graduation” captures exactly the right mood for dwelling on the minute details of past regrets. Brendan Lukens’ lyrics hold a grudge like a viper struggling to get free, pent-up venom directed at no crippling misfortune in particular, just being unlucky in love. At a party, the narrator spots his ex on the stairs, “too drunk to stand,” and wonders whether she’ll stay with her new guy forever. And that forceful, messy sound—guitars urging forward, the drums kicking in to keep the pace up—reminds me of all the albums I would toss in my CD player to keep my mind off the one that got away when I was a teenager. (“It’s been three whole years of me thinkin’ bout you everyday / Sometimes for hours, sometimes in passing.”)
Instead of doing something about his miserable situation, the narrator of “My Graduation” simply gets up, takes a walk, and thinks about her again, but not before blowing off some steam (“Bullshit, you fuckin’ miss me / There I said it, I guess I’ll talk to you in a few months”). It’s a testament to how impossible it can be to sever the ties of memorable young relationships when shared experience and innate physical chemistry are involved. Lukens’ yearning vocals connected to my nostalgic nerves, poking at the small but nagging fear that seeing the people I cared about so many years ago would cause me to squander all the personal progress I had made.
It turned out none of us had much to worry about. The reunion was a blast, even if a few drinks were necessary to settle the jitters. None of the pompous and potentially venomous bullies showed up, leaving an odd gaggle of old friends and forgotten classmates eager to catch up and prove they’ve grown up. And, thankfully, the one that got away doesn’t carry that title anymore.
Modern Baseball’s second full-length, You’re Gonna Miss It All—a title that holds a small, aching hint of regret over leaving a hometown behind—is out February 11 on Run For Cover.