‘Driver’ masterfully depicts the feelings of freedom and liberation to isolation and heart-ache (and everything in between)
During a global lockdown where most of the world has been confined to their homes, driving more than ever feels like the pinnacle of freedom; conjuring up the now far-off idea of travelling across the country to new, adventurous places – or even just to the bars and restaurants and clubs we used to venture to regularly in the before-times. To be able to drive wherever, whenever is to be able to escape the listless monotony of quarantine life – where days can feel like little more than a predictable struggle to get through. Even during a time when where we can go with our cars is limited, they still remain our greatest access to freedom; a place where we can escape the claustrophobia of being in the same house day in, day out with the same people.
The aptly named album ‘Driver’ fluctuates across it’s 30 minutes between the freedom symbolised by driving and, the heaviness of feeling trapped – whether literally trapped at home because of lockdown or metaphorically trapped by debilitating emotional distress. ‘Driver’ focuses on universal, timeless feelings of heart-ache, first loves and independence, yet it also feels like a time capsule for the current day. The album’s best track ‘Breathing’ represents the mental exhaustion of quarantine life and the desperate struggle to stop yourself crawling up the walls (“I bury into another show / Stream into my head and eyes / Watch as I die”). ‘Sober’, meanwhile, starts off an similar theme (“The only thing I’ve done this month / Is drink beer and / Masturbate and ignore phone calls from you”), but as the song progresses, it’s emotional truths get darker (“My hunched over back on the driver’s side / Begging you to get out when you said you wanted to die / Can’t you see that’s the kind of shit / I can’t be the one to decide”). The lyrics – which contrast the freedom of driving with the heaviness of the conversation going on within the car – perfectly encapsulate this album’s best asset: the way it fluctuates with ease between heavy emotional truths and a breezy sense of freedom and liberation.
The album is structured in such a way that these contrasting moments are placed perfectly against each other – the aforementioned ‘Breathing’, which documents the day-to-day experiencing of trying to avoid quarantine cabin-fever is followed by the nostalgic ‘Berlin’, which recounts an endearing first-encounter with a love interest (“A stranger gave us a beer / In the hallway of the bathroom / And we drank it real slow / I was just trying to get to know you / In the dorm room we sign ‘Violet’ by Hole / Screaming off our youth”). However, even these seemingly sweet nostalgic moments contain an underlying sense of bitterness because of how far away they feel from our current, isolated reality. Sure enough, we are quickly brought back down to earth with tracks like ‘Sober’ and ‘Checking Up’; whose lyrics paint a messier and more currently realistic depiction of life. Fittingly, the album ends with the highlight ‘Frost’; a song that itself ends with perhaps the most relevant and relatable lyric on this whole album – “I’m aware I might be too good at being alone / I might be too good at closing myself off / No one can let me out but myself”.
Best tracks: Frost, Breathing, Sober