On All This Love, the latest release from Philadelphia’s twentythreenineteen, resentment is packaged with love. Confusion, too, is packaged with love. Fear, unease, insecurity, rejection, jilt – at the other end of it all, there is love.
Led by front-man Sean McCall (Sweet Pill), twentythreenineteen poignantly explores various shades of love. The EP recognizes that in adulthood, our relationships aren’t nearly as cut and dry as they were when we were kids. But that doesn’t mean everything was better back then, or that love becomes any less important or less intense.
“Chessie,” the final song on the EP, is propelled by mournful guitar and fears of growing distant. Yet at the end, despite all his concerns and upsets, McCall still appends an honest, “It’s ‘I love you’ until I die.” In a similar vein, “Stain Glass Staring” is a more resentful track that details a relationship gone sour due to feelings of neglect and dismissal. Yet, it ends on the note: “All the love I have I owe to you.” Is it a hopeful ending? Or is it an admission that love can be messy and irrational? An acknowledgment that we sometimes tolerate inattention and disregard because of that little thing called “love”?
Ultimately, All This Love‘s message isn’t as simple or cliched as “love always wins” or “love is what matters most” but instead it’s more, “love is always present.” Its warm light is always there, even when it’s the thing that’s burning you.
But twentythreenineteen isn’t here to wallow in past mistakes or yearn for their lost innocence. Again, things aren’t that cut and dry. Lyrics throughout the EP reference mixed feelings about growing up – from longing lamentations (“I miss it all, I miss when the world was oh so small“) to angrier reflections on past immaturity (“I was a kid who couldn’t process compassion / I was a child who could never learn their lesson“).
There’s also a push to keep pressing forward even as adulthood and all its hardships creep in. “You know, we’re made for something, not just growing old,” guitarist Dylan Walker croons. Why sit around wishing for the good old days of youth when you can build your own new place in the world?
All these themes are wrapped up in warm jangly guitars, creating this soothing embrace that counteracts the discussions of uneasier realities. Songs will dip in and out of emotional outbursts – either a heartfelt line delivery from McCall or a manic jolting transition – but no matter what, that warm undercurrent remains. Because despite everything, twentythreenineteen promises that, for better or for worse, love will always be there.