You Can Never Escape The Past
What can one expect from an act associated with the slowcore band Low? Surprisingly, not the typical characteristics that one would think. The Canadian born, Minnesota raised Haley Bonar carves out a name for herself in the way of lo-fi pop more similar to what one would encounter in Southern California, as opposed to the tempestuous, broodiness of the Star of the North state. Perhaps, one might discredit Haley Bonar based off of the fact that both Low and Bonar are from Minnesota and that they were doing a favor for another local musician by allowing her to open for them, but Bonar’s music is so much more than that. Her latest release, Impossible Dream, is an album that explores the often peculiar yet amusing idea of growing up and returning to what was once home.
So much of the Indie Pop genre tends to sound the same. It is lo-fi, repetitive guitars spliced intermittently with a slow contemplative track. Bonar’s record falls perfectly into that category, but the difference is the way in which she presents her themes. Instead of her music sounding nostalgic, Bonar creates a sense of nostalgia with her lyrics. It’s about how one’s past follows one through life no matter how far or where they go to escape, there is always some small bit that imprints itself on one that is indelibly sealed on their personality.
Her first song, “Hometown” begins on a cryptic note. Lyrics like, “All grown up, saving for my exit/Let it burn in the rear-view mirror,” construct a picture of destruction while her girlish voice mumbles over rhythmic, happy sounding guitars. She continues with “The folks I know will go/On their way to staying the same/But the further I get/The deeper my regrets,” revealing a sort of unhappy nostalgia. It explores one leaving home, but also the profound sadness one may feel once leaving home, only to return and discover the thing that had changed was her. It is a conflicting song where she sings about how people back home do not possess a desire to expand their minds and are destined to be live in an unchanging cycle, but when she returns, it is as if she longs to be that person she once was.
Some of her other songs like “Your Mom Is Right” and “Better Than Me” explore the idea of coming of age and realizing that no matter how old one gets or the experiences she has, she will still return and be looked as the same person everyone grew up with. The themes are universal, but the way in which Bonar presents them is a refreshing and often funny way of looking at the world. In “Your Mom Is Right,” she repeats phrases, “Where you gonna go when it all goes down” and “Your mom is right/She’s always right.” Like most everyone comes to realize that mothers are never wrong, Bonar just sings about it in a droll, relatable way all while perfectly paired with a repetitive drum beat and vocals akin to Donovan and Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast.
Don’t listen to this record expecting some sort of groundbreaking music. Instead, listen to it for its dark yet sometimes humorous take on growing up and the idea that no matter what you’ve done while you’ve been away from home, you will always come back and be the same person in the eyes of your peers and parents.