Pale morning sunlight pierces through your bedroom window, burning your eyelids. As you open crusty bloodshot eyes the blinding light sends daggers to your temples.
“Just Like Before,” the first track on The Hypochondriacs’ album The Hypochondriacs in ¾, is the track that drags your hungover ass out of bed. The album itself becomes the whiskey-soaked soundtrack to the morning after a night of, you guessed it, too much whiskey. The song is fast-paced and energizing, with a gunslinger rhythm and vocal coyote whoops that take you back to the Wild West.
With lyrics like “That sun will not shine on my face anymore,” and “The time shall pass and I’ll move on, but my heart calls for the one I love,” the song puts the listener in the shoes of loss and an endless cycle of trying to cope with that loss.
The second track “Two Bottles of Whiskey” is the leisurely barefoot walk out of the bedroom to the coffeemaker. You pour a shot of stale whiskey into the coffee cup and stare at the pile of cigarette butts on the coffee table as the loneliness and existential dread set in. The song brings you back to the time of old bluegrass country: Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and Roger Miller, the sweet taste of nostalgia to mask the alcohol-sour, dry taste in your mouth.
“Hung Up and Hung Over” is when the headache really sets in and the coffee clears your groggy head. It’s a reflection on the endless cycle of hard living after a rough emotional breakup and the problems that go with it, but expresses an unwillingness to change with lyrics like, “I’m hung up and hung over, what’s a man like me to do?” This song may or may not be the soundtrack to a short trip to the bathroom to hang your head over the toilet bowl.
“3-4” brings another lazy tempo heartbreak song to the album. “3-4” gets to the heart of the problem facing the character struggling throughout the album. Lyrics like, “I won’t forget the day when you made my heart soar, and you told me, you don’t love me, anymore,” remember the good and beautiful times with the bittersweet sting of the reality of a breakup.
The fifth track “Last Night” is the most romantic song on the album. Doo-wop backup vocals transport you to a 1950s-high school dance. The energy builds, pulling you off your feet and looking for someone to dance with. It may just end up being your cat, who will eventually scratch your arms and run away from you. Nevertheless, the song gives hope in the possibility of moving on, from the breakup and the hangover.
“The Meeting Place” is the one track that sets itself apart from the narrative of the rest of the album. The song tells its own story of a preacher who built a church to spread the word of God, then wanted to go on a quest to gather more lost souls. The church then told him if he left they would replace him. The preacher’s anger and disbelief at his own creation turning on him gives the song its headbanging crescendo. Choir parts add to the building intensity of the song and lyrics like “so the preacher man, he packed up his bags to escape the cult he accidentally made, to start anew with his family,” hit the listener with a sense of injustice.
“In The Mountains” brings you back from the story of the preacher to the hangover in your living room. It jolts you back to your reality, but with the sense of empathy for the preacher’s story. It’s your stomach’s angry roars, and the tune that gets you off the couch and into the kitchen to make breakfast. The vocals have an Elvis vibe that’s interesting mixed with instrumentals reminiscent of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. and the energy of the song seems to come from an acceptance that your lover has left with your heart and the freedom acceptance brings.
The final song “Reaching Out” cements that sense of renewal and moving on. The lyrics take on a double meaning: one way the emotion of the song can be moving past the person who left you. But as lyrics like, “I’ve done my time, I’m getting up I’m tired of sitting ‘round listening to the country-stars singing about the god-dang pickup trucks,” suggest, the song also is about the rebirth of what The Hypochondriacs call real country music. The country power-duet vocals remind you of the days of Johnny and June, but bring them to a modern audience, literally with audience cheers bringing a musical break encore at the very end of the song. It leaves you with a sense of hope as the hangover symptoms subside and you realize it’s 3 p.m.
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