Posted on October 30th, 2017
[as seen on GoldFlakePaint]
The momentous, magnificent new album from Bad History Month was inspired by a personal revelation, a sudden grasp on the idea that, within reason, nothing really matters. Or, at least, that death is inevitable no matter how or what we spend out time here doing. With this moment of inspiration came a new outlook for Sean Bean and while the concept is nothing new, especially when it comes to popular music, he began digging at the cracks that papered over this idea, framing it around the people and places within his own life and world and what it meant in actual terms.
The result is a junkyard behemoth, a scrappy collection of guitar songs that, combined, create something fascinating, bewildering, richly important and inspired. Presented alongside a booklet, which brings together the album’s lyrics alongside various illustrations, quotes from War & Peace, and Bean’s own introduction which delves in to his then-found clarity. “I remember watching an episode of The Simpsons as a five-year-old,” he begins, “and Homer had to choose between learning the secret of “The Meaning of Life” or a free donut. He chose the donut, so I asked my mom “What does ‘The Meaning of Life’ mean?”. She tried to explain but it was an impossible concept to convey to an immortal kid.”
“I really didn’t understand the question “What is the Meaning of Life?” until over twenty years later, when I finally internalized the fact that I’m inevitably going to die.” the introduction continues. “Having that light burst through blew my mind, no drugs required. I walked around full of love and tenderness for every person I encountered, free of fear or resentment, because, after all, nothing mattered. The cloyingly cheerful woman ringing me up at Trader Joe’s was a precious, temporary, poignant, pitiable, tragic miracle just like me and everyone else and I felt a deep sympathy and connection to all people, a loving sadness for how much time is wasted on bullshit and misery and kids making fun of each other and dead- end jobs and relationships running down the years of so many lives.”
For all of its mighty, weighty sprawl – for which their is plenty, with two songs drifting over the ten-minute mark – Dead And Loving It also has a succinctness that allows an immediate connection, the eight tracks here feeling distinctly formed, wrapping themselves around the listener from the very first seconds, like an idiosyncratic world constructed from the ether. Musically, the record is, for all of its wide-eyed proclamations, beautifully dust-filled and grubby, like shouting about the sanctity of life and endeavours from a dimly lit room on some dead-end afternoon. It’s perhaps this aspect, more than any one thing, that makes it such a brilliant work of art, however, because if nothing’s sacred, if everything we do and strive for is futile, then there’s just as much triumph in the mundane and the humdrum of life as there is in the great outdoors, in struggle as well as contentedness.
As Bean himself says: “Several years having passed since my initial Revelation of The Obvious, I am not as filled with the same bonhomie or boldness. I’m as afraid of dying and of losing people I love as everyone who’s ever existed, and I’m as intermittently hateful and ungrateful as I ever was. I do still think there is some value in the ideas presented in these songs. Setting aside the inherent existential horror, the value of Death is that it’s an infallibly reliable fixed point on the horizon to navigate by when I’m lost at sea.”