Growing up and giving in: I won’t do it.

Listening to: “Vices” by The Dopamines

I’m not sure whether there’s such a thing as too much Lucero, but I’ve sure been listening to them a lot lately.

Correction: as of this week I’ve moved on to a great deal of The Dopamines new album “Vices,” but I’ll write more on that once I’ve listened to it a bit more. As of now my review on it is that it’s freaking awesome. More speedy, pumped-up pop punk that I’ve come to love The Dopamines for. With a lot of songs about coping with depression in a chemically prescribed fashion, or lack of wanting to do so.

I digress. Lucero is the topic right now. “Women and Work” grew on me quickly, and I spent the last month or so listening to it whenever I was able to listen to music. Which was rare, but that makes the occasions for Lucero all the more important.

I have a very love-hate relationship with that band. “1372 Overton Park” is one of my favorite albums. It’s one of the most played albums in my iTunes, which you know means something. But I really, really dislike “Tennessee” and “That Much Further West.” Not that they’re bad per say, but they’re really just not my style at all. “Women and Work” follows “1372” more than the others, and that’s why I love it.

This isn’t a review though — it’s more than a couple months late in the game for that. If you’re interested in trying out the album, you’ve probably already read through a bunch of reviews on other sites and downloaded the album in February or March.

This is more of a discussion of a bigger issue. Of what’s behind my urge to listen to this sorrowful yet carefree album so much.

It seems life can be broken into different eras of “getting to know you” questions. When you’re a kid and meet a new kid around your age, the first conversations often are along the lines of “What’s your favorite color?” “What’s your favorite animal?” “Do you like Pokemon or Dragonball Z better?” (Okay, maybe that last one is a little outdated for children of 2012 rather than 1996, but you get the idea).

Then as a pre-teen, it’s more of “Who’s your favorite singer?” “Who do you have a crush on?” “[Insert MTV-related TV show question]?”

As a teenager to college-aged person and even post-college, it gets tougher. It’s a question I’ve heard before but hid away from while I was employed in a professional, full-time job before quitting and committing myself to a year as a “professional volunteer.” Now it’s back and more daunting than ever: “What’s next?”

I have no idea. I didn’t care for the first four months of my professionally volunteering career. But now, with days leading up to the halfway point, it’s starting to seem more relevant. What next? Do I do another year of this? Do I find a different program to volunteer professionally with? Do I apply to jobs at a non-profit? Do I return to the field from whence I came?

I’m a big believer in life working itself out. In college, if I procrastinated on a big paper, it stressed me out less because I knew I’d get done with it eventually and it would be on time (always was, too–what can I say, I work well under deadline). So maybe the reason I’m still not excessively worried is that I know I’ll figure it out at some point, and I’m honestly just kind of giddy to see what life throws at me next.

But that also seems to be the reason Lucero feels right so much for right now. They chill me out when I’m feeling stressed. They make me pine for a road trip where I can just drive and drive and drive while listening to their albums, but also make it feel okay that I’m not doing that right now. They make me yearn for deep loves eventually, but not now. Now they make me want to travel and explore, to try everything I can, and to know it’s okay to just want to sit in a divey bar with a beer all alone sometimes to mellow out and regroup.

“What’s next?” falls along the lines of one other question that seems to exist through all those eras: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And it’s a question that seems to be never answered. When have you grown up? When you pay taxes? When you pay rent? When you worry about having health insurance? I’ve been through all of those now, and I still don’t feel like a Grown Up. Is it when you “settle down”? Have kids? Buy a house and car and a dog? Who says? If I ever have any or all of those things, I doubt they’ll make me feel like a definitive Grown Up. On my way to my mid-20s I have no desire to feel that way. Even as more responsibilities rack up, I don’t think they’ll make me always feel that way.

My answer to both questions is short but not straightforward. It’s “I don’t know.” I want to do a lot, but I don’t know what I want to do next. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up because I don’t know when I’ll see myself as a grown up. And I’m okay with it.

It’s why “On My Way Downtown” is a track I want to listen to over and over a lot of the time right now, and why “Juniper” makes me tingle for things I don’t know yet.

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    • Justin Jacoby Smith
    • June 28th, 2012

    For the record (ha, ha), you’d probably like the two records between TMFW and 1372. Full-formed 1372 rocknroll style, but louder and less Springsteen-y. Sorta less-mature grasps at what they perfected on 1372, not as mopey slowcore as TMFW or as country as the stuff that came before it.

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