The opening of We Can Live Here Forever is a core shattering realization. It’s a heartache set to what sounds like a simple lullaby, starting a personally relatable, anthemic release from Barely Civil. When this opening song comes to its end the record drifts into a space of dynamic progressions mixed with punchy melodies. “Lost // Found” has a shimmer in it that feels a bit more hopeful, using a pop sensible creativity to writing the hook and building upon that with plenty of brilliance.
What is refreshing about the bulk of this record is its imagery portrayed by the soundscape. Songs like “You With A Cape, Me With A Baseball Bat,” “Stark” and the aforementioned “Lost // Found” feel careless in its frolic; like a summer day with the sun smiling down. Other tracks feel bleak with a cloud of grey stomping through the harmonies, like “RE: Your Lungs” and the slow burning “Handwritten House.” The former charges with angst in its climax and the latter has such a beautiful ambiance to its sound it becomes a memorable track to keep coming back to.
With plenty of tenacity and unexpected turns, this record is a fun and pleasing listen every time. Vocalist/guitarist Connor Erickson of Barely Civil goes into the meanings behind the tracks on their stupendous release, We Can Live Here Forever.
I’ve Been Getting Headaches Lately: “I’ve Been Getting Headaches Lately” sets the stage for this entire record. This track tells a story of attempting to cope with major life changes, a new location, new friends, and new insecurities, without diving too deep into any specific struggles. This track describes the intense anxiety and lack of clarity that I felt following the uprooting of my comfortable life in Wausau and my transplant to Milwaukee with lines like “These are the wires that connect our brains to our hearts. They’ve been shorting every night and I’m tired” detailing the disconnect between where I know I need to be and where I would like to be. Change and my inability to deal with it is what this entire record centers around and this track really lays that foundation.
Lost//Found: “Lost//Found” is an explosive and aggressive piece of self-reflection that blends sour with sweet, discussing my insecurities and discomfort with trying to find my place in a new environment. This track opens with a discussion of my overwhelming anxiety when surrounded by new people, leading to a genuine curiosity of if I will ever truly find my safe space. The second verse acts as a moment of revelation, describing how I would only find true comfort if I was completely alone without the stress of social interaction, leading to an open letter to everyone I know requesting that they know one thing, “this is nothing.”
Eau Claire? Oh, Claire: “Eau Claire? Oh, Claire” was written shortly after I found myself falling for someone I’d just met in a city I’d just entered. This track centers around my realization that I would never be seen by this person in the light that I saw them, however, I was okay with that. This track is as much about accepting new friendship as it is about my stupid, shallow, young adult perception of what it means to love someone. This track is by far the quietest and most laid back on this album, however, it serves to be one of the most personal tracks, acting as almost a series of diary entries that document my thoughts on life, love, and happiness.
RE: Your Lungs: “RE: Your Lungs” is a piece borne out of pure frustration and annoyance. This track centers around a seemingly endless conflict that is irreparably destroying the relationship between the two parties involved. I wrote this track as a way to describe my intense aggravation over people not following through on their promises, utilizing this idea of a smoker quitting and coming back to their habit repeatedly as a metaphor for this behavior. This track builds into a messy, fuzz driven climax that immediately dissipates into its calm origins the moment this cycle of conflict is finally broken. Ultimately, this track is the first instance of optimism throughout the record to this point and really stands as a turning point in my thoughts and mental wellbeing.
Handwritten House: “Handwritten House” comes from a very dark part of my transitionary phase after moving to Milwaukee for school. I found myself feeling very alone and isolated and constantly thought how nice it would be to just disappear for a while. At the time I was also writing a lot of short stories and had created this fictional story about this desire from the perspective of someone whose friend has decided to leave everything behind, and that story became this song. I really wrote this track to clear everything up in my mind and to stop thinking so selfishly. I needed to write this track in order to talk some sense into myself.
You With a Cape, Me With a Baseball Bat: “You With a Cape, Me With a Baseball Bat” is bright and hoppy and full of all the diluted joy that I gained when I finally started to feel comfortable existing in a new space surrounded by new people. While there’s definitely a fair amount of self-love and optimism in this track, there’s still this blanket of insecurity that keeps me from feeling fully able to say that I love myself and that’s all that matters. This track is fast, aggressive, punchy, and full of all the angst one feels when they’re in or entering their 20s.
Stark: “Stark” is essentially part one of a two part track that revolves around childhood and my fear of losing my connection to it as I continue to grow and have new experiences. This track, however, does not paint an overwhelmingly positive picture of my childhood, and for good reason. As a kid, I never did much aside from sitting at home and finding ways to occupy my time in my room. It was a boring, uneventful, and unremarkable time in my life, but, it still felt a lot more worthwhile that the anxiety ridden stress marathon that is young adult life. Overall, this piece is a reflection on times that felt simpler and easier, with a lurking desire to return to that space.
Kent: “Kent” acts as part two of this two parter, expanding on my nostalgic lust for a return to simpler times by expressing all of my insecurities and concerns for the future and the thoughts that make it all feel overwhelming. Throughout this track I express my thoughts, fears, and plans for growth while asking the question of who will take care of me when I can no longer take care of myself. I often wonder if I’m the only person constantly feeling this anxiety over growth and aging, and creating this track ended up being a very comforting experience by allowing me to really describe and come to terms with how I am feeling at this particular point in my life. This track is slow and quiet, but serves as one of my favorite and most vulnerable moments on this record.
Super 8//Marathon: “Super 8//Marathon” was my way of detailing the moment when I found myself feeling comfortable in my own skin with the people I was surrounded by. I kept the lyrics to this track simple and left a lot of room for the beautiful instrumentation provided by the rest of my bandmates to shine through and I did this very intentionally. This track is about finding comfort and joy not in the place I’m in but in being with the people I love. Ultimately, “home” should be where you find the most comfort and salvation, and while for some that may directly translate to a particular space, for me “home” has always been my friends, my loved ones, and the music I create with those people, so it doesn’t matter if we’re running from shitty motel to shitty motel, I feel at peace, I feel content, I feel at home.
I Am Drowning: “I Am Drowning” is the final track on this record and we decided to go acoustic for this one, folks. This track was written at 3:15AM and is a direct recollection of the dream I had just woken up from. When I first moved to Milwaukee, I had a series of intensely strange dreams revolving around people from my past, one of those dreams being the dream described in this song. I think, ultimately, I wrote this track in order to explore what was going on in my head at the time. This track is brooding and raw, but its core is the truest sense of what I was feeling when I felt my life shifting in a completely different direction than it had ever been traveling before. The truest sense of me at a time when I was unsure who I really was.
Photo by Lainey Koch Photography