We Were Young When You Left Home is an album about childhood and parental divorce. The piano compositions open a gaping wound out of which conflicting, unstable emotions pour forth. Germany’s Tim Linghaus mutates his voice to go along with this tale of altered, dislocated childhood, and a selection of light electronics pepper the record.
It can be difficult for adults to accept and then adapt to these changes, let alone a child, who can’t fully grasp or comprehend the situation or the way of their changing world. A divorce can leave septic feelings of abandonment, loneliness, confusion, and guilt; separation can quite literally rip a child’s world in half. To someone experiencing this, the world seems unfair and cruel, and it often is. The piano is troubled, too. The chords of ‘Dark Boroughs’ are lethargic, but you get the sense that they have to go through the fire in order to get to the other side, pushing on and pushing through until they make it.
More than anything, this is the sound of processing deep, fundamental change. Kids grow up and become teenagers, and teenagers turn into adults. Those formative years build character and shape personality, and there’s a ton of personality splattered all over the album. But with track titles such as ‘Ascending Demons’, ‘Bury My Love’, and ‘Hearse Park’, it’s also undeniably tainted by sizeable chapters of grief and sorrow. Childhood should be far removed from those shores, but it isn’t immune to them.
The short tracks carry abrupt endings which hold up a mirror and reflect life: a new day is never guaranteed, and relationships can suddenly splinter and dissolve. Lyrics are bent and electronically-altered. The words ‘I can’t love you anymore’ aim for the heart, even in the middle of its breaking, and the lyrics don’t lose anything in the way of raw emotion despite their electronic channels and morphed delivery. The truth comes pouring out, even in its altered state. Cracks appear in the relationship, lurking behind fake compliments and stuttering conversations, and there’s no attempt or will to resuscitate it. These initial fault-lines run over the side of the vase. Then it cracks, and there’s debris all over the place. Others are affected, too, having to pick up the pieces.
Clipped beats and a snoozing saxophone help to develop a mellow mood. Thanks to some note-bending, effervescent psychedelia, the music tilts and angles itself without ever turning on its head and confusing the listener. ‘Sunbeams Caressing Flowers’ offers a hint as to the end of prolonged trouble, but evocations are everywhere. The tracks begin to brighten towards the end, and much of the album contains a warped euphoria, with brief moments of joy sliding into uncertainty and dissolution; a childhood cut short. The piano is the verbal speech of sad, lingering thoughts, and they’re a mainstay, but despite this, the album ends on a sunny guitar and a glowing vocal. Because when we were young, the world was still full of possibilities, even with the separation. We Were Young When You Left Home is out November 22 via Japan’s Schole Records.