Bedroom lamp shades. Hanging kitchen lighting. Red and cream colored curtains straight out of your grandmother's house. The original album cover was stitched by lead vocalist, Nick Zawisa’s mother, framed and displayed on the stage. Every aspect of a Breakup Shoes show emulates this comforting, easy-going personality that makes it feel like the audience is being welcomed to be a part of their band, and makes you feel like a family member listening to their music.
Opening for the album release show on Aug. 24 was Bummer Girl followed by Diva Bleach. Two Phoenix-grown bands that each brought unique personalities to the stage. Every member of Bummer Girl wore a funky hat, including a Smokey the Bear hat, a sailor captain's hat, a cowboy hat with tassels and a green St. Patrick’s Day hat. Diva Bleach’s punky persona pumped the crowd up to another level.
When Breakup Shoes finally took the stage, the crowd was buzzing with excitement to hear the long-awaited album. The band started off with a few old tunes, building anticipation.
Toward the end of the show Zawisa announced this was lead guitarist John MacLeod’s last live show. He's a founding member, and is leaving the band to move onto bigger things after seven-ish years with Breakup Shoes.
“[John] was in high school when we started the band,” Zawisa said.
Let’s deep dive into the album.
This album is written from the perspective of a 20-something year old trying to navigate the ins and outs of life. Realizing that when you compare yourself to others, you may in fact be behind your peers because you’re not sure about yourself. It’s an expression of figuring out who you are, and the raw emotion seething into the lyrics makes the album as a whole so relatable, so real. To break it down, let's get to the nitty gritty of each song.
Shouldn’t I? - The self awareness of knowing you aren’t living up to your potential, letting anxiety take a hold and run your life to the point of living in a paralyzed state until you die. The expression of doubt about yourself, the doomed question every 20-something-year-old asks themselves: Shouldn’t I be doing more with my life? The song validates the constant questioning and worrying a person goes through while still trying to discover who they are.
Since I Met You - A sweet song Zawisa wrote about his girlfriend while he was in San Francisco and particularly missing her. The emotion of love seeps through in this song, the admiration of finding that person you could spend the rest of your days with. The beauty of relief knowing that someone sees you for who you are, and the comforting idea that they are there for you in everything. “Everything is different since I met you/ was blind but now I see/ the world is not as dreary when I’m with you/ and I never want to leave.”
Get Lost - The sound of Get Lost is reminiscent of older Breakup Shoes songs. As Zawisa stated at the album release show, it was written after a trip he took with his girlfriend, and as one can conclude from listening, it was an outdoorsy kind of trip. It’s about the journey of spending time with your significant other and having fun and appreciating the time spent with each other.
Rat Race - The rat race of life. The repetitive nature or working too much, losing sleep, losing track of time. Essentially being employed in the real world and the exhaustion that comes with it. Zawisa is comparing his 16-year-old self to himself now, how he used to have “not a care in the world, now I’m struggling to eat.” Wondering to himself where all the time has gone and when he’s supposed to “do anything of meaning, got employment so demeaning.” Basically, summarizing the feeling of not knowing what to do - following that same theme of “Shouldn’t I?” He’s asking himself when he’s supposed to take care of himself when he’s living in this repetitive state of working too much, sleeping too little and trying to figure out who he is.
Sorry - At first listen, I thought this was just an apology to someone Zawisa had left behind in life, but after a few listens it sounds a lot like an inner monologue about overthinking his relationship. He called it an ‘impromptu love song’ that feels similar to the mental worrying one gets wrapped up in when they feel the need to apologize for doing something that could have maybe, possibly, potentially hurt someone.
Monotony - Exactly what the title says. The repetitive actions of living numb, paralyzed in a state of depression and an inability to feel like a real person. After listening to “Shouldn’t I?,” “Rat Race” and “Sorry,” this song is the culmination of everything combined driving him crazy. The emotion of living, being a functional human is driving him crazy because it’s just the same thing every. Single. Day. He’s not living a true life, he’s just going through the motions.
Get a Grip! - To preface this song at the release show. Zawisa said it’s about realizing you’ve got the worst parts of your parents - but specifically your dad. As soon as that was said, there was a very collective, audible, “Oh damn” from the audience. This song strikes a nerve through the realization of the uncanny similarities, and as it begins to become apparent to him, he’s gotta collect himself. He has to figure out how to deal with that statement and the idea of becoming the worst part of someone who you don’t want to emulate.
At Least I’ve Still Got Some Friends - This is my personal favorite song from the album. It perfectly captures the emotion and intellectual process of grieving the loss of your friends to their own lives while they move on to bigger and better things. The song perfectly describes the nostalgia and the worry of never finding new friends as good as what you had with old ones, but realizing that no matter where they end up, they will still be there for you. No matter what phase of life they’re moving onto, they’re not totally gone. It’s the self-reassurance that hits the hardest within the song, knowing that your friends are in fact doing what’s best for them, but you will always be the cheerleader on the sidelines of their life rooting for them.
Overall, I rate this album 9.5/10. The lyrics are so raw and written in a way that when listened to, a person can fully understand what the musicians are going through. The lyrics resonate in a way that most high school or college age kids can relate to. The vocals, the bass and the drums all culminate in a sweet harmony that leaves the same feeling I would imagine a hummingbird feels after drinking sweet nectar from a flower.