By Venus Rittenberg, Editorial Director
[Hot Green Records; 2012]
Key Tracks: “Tibetan Pop Stars”, “Diamond Mine”, “Laments“
Get Disowned begins with a whimper to an ex-lover asking them to not obliterate whatever dignity the two of them have left between each other. “It’s time to exit / with some grace.” Frances Quinlan doesn’t even really sing these lines, they’re more begging. This emo breakup album is full of these brilliant one-liners that so beautifully capture the difficult and complex pains of a disintegrating love.
A bad breakup can really make someone lose any shred of self worth they might’ve clung to throughout the disintegration of a complicated relationship. Get Disowned is the album for these feelings. “Tibetan Pop Stars,” the biggest hit off the album, is one of the most brilliant examples of this. In the outro, Quinlan screams “my love is average, I obey an average law.” Such a simple line, but incredibly potent and devastating. The speaker feels that they are merely average, a thought that mirrors the first verse of the song. In this verse they ponder “how content are the ones / with simple demands? / They meet their fiances cherry picking out in Canada.” They have reached a conclusion to this question by fulfilling that spot themselves. They have accepted that they are one of these average folk. “I obey an average law.” Quinlan is dominated by averageness. It is their nature, their fate.
“Diamond Mine” brutally depicts family dysfunction and its emotional consequences for the children of such situations. Quinlan’s lyrics continue to be brutally poignant. “So unhappy child, flash me your rottweiler smile,” did you grow up in a trailer park? / Did you grow up in an immaculate and humorless place? / Where the holy spirit, when you came crawling in / turned away his face,” “there are some parents whose children long for divorce.” Their lyrics unrelentingly depict the damage done to an emotionally neglected child. It all builds to a climactic outro with sizzling guitars and loud vocals where they exclaim “oh gnawing orphan, what can I bring? / Oh, it’s nothing, he already took everything.” Loneliness is such a human feeling, but this song captures a unique instance of feeling it, and captures it well. The song is an emotional rollercoaster.
The centerpiece of the album is the near seven-minute-long “Laments.” The track continues the breakup theme that much of the album is focused around. The first segment of the song is beautiful, with angelic background vocals as Quinlan depicts the decline of a relationship through heavy reference to the mattress the couple shared. The mattress imagery persists throughout the entire song, with Quinlan describing the way the mattress could tell the story of the relationship’s inevitable end. Yet the most painful stanza is what essentially functions as the song’s chorus, “go ahead, take the couch / I know I don’t wanna sit here next to nobody / go ahead, take the fridge / I know I don’t want you going hungry, yeah / go ahead, take the cat / I know you’re only gonna be coming back, so / go ahead, take it all.”
What Get Disowned does best is deliver touching, memorable, and quotable lyrics about painful breakups. Lines like “everybody is a little hard to love sometimes” on “No Good Al Joad” or “how crushing it must have been to find / this is not your place / this is not your time” on “Sally II” are some positively phenomenal moments. Songs like “Laments” and “Tibetan Pop Stars” deliver crushing moment after crushing moment. It’s a beautiful yet painful and very moving album. Perhaps no song is more moving than the penultimate track, “Young and Happy!” The song, like others, sees Quinlan reminiscing on an old relationship, and how thankful they were that they got to be “young and happy” with that person, and how ultimately they undid the relationship themselves by lying. The final track of the album, the title track, continues the longing to be young again (something that is also addressed on “Kids On the Boardwalk”), as they wistfully look back on a relationship that didn’t last. “Meteor, make me young”, Quinlan cries as the album comes to its close. Wishing on a shooting star, longing to go back to a simpler time, when love was easy and made sense.