Editor’s Note: Welcome to Quarantainment, Vanyaland’s new series on what to watch, what to hear, and how to deal as the world engages in social distancing to combat the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19. We’re all at home, we’re all online, and we’re all in this together. #StayTheFHome
If Tysk Tysk Task’s name sounds like an admonishment, that’s because it kind of is.
Maybe the Lowell band didn’t set out to make their moniker a fitting onomatopoeia, but with their new record Everybody’s Worried About Us, they tsk tsk tsk right in the face of smug condescension anyways.
Gleaned from an old notebook scribble from 2018 when the band formed, the record’s title reflects the patronization of a generation, unpacked through a thorny tangle of art rock.
“At least, from my perspective as a white millennial who went through (/is still going through?) a quarter-life crisis, I am constantly getting condescending check-ins from older family members, older co-workers, older bosses,” frontwoman Samantha Hartsel tells Vanyaland. “Even these nasty articles from rude baby boomers about why we’re eating avocado toast and not buying houses or diamonds… on some level, that has to be coming from a deep-seeded place of concern (if not a place of patronizing, know-it-all spite and envy).”
Spanning 13 tracks, the album tackles the pressure points of 2020, from coping with “Witchcraft” (alternative title: “A Young Millennial’s Guide to Spirituality and Taking Down the Trump Administration”) to the longstanding forms of misogyny so deeply ingrained in everyday life via “Belligerent.”
“Belligerent” in particular goes back almost a decade; started in 2011 during a period of binging Jersey Shore, the song targets how little has changed in between Hartsel’s college years, the Jersey Shore heyday, and 2020.
“My college parties at Ithaca College in central New York were just the same way [as Jersey Shore parties] — jerk assholes taking advantage of women and demeaning them” she adds. “There are lots of issues about consent and general #metoo themes in this song, because although I’m 30 and that 19-year-old me feels like she lived so long ago, those same pressures continue at social gatherings today – so little has changed in 10 years, or 20 or 30.”
Still, a respite trickles in between the record’s jagged edges. Tenderness is tucked in Tysk Tysk Task’s hollers and calls to action, if you listen with an attentive ear, because even the most bellicose of attitudes sprout from a place of loving apprehension for one another.
“If you don’t view the Everybody’s Worried About Us title through its sardonic, sarcastic, somewhat-comedic lens, I think even the people in my generation and younger are worried about themselves, as well,” Hartsel explains. “I’m worried about us, collectively, all of us. I’m angry about it. We hope that this album captures some of that anger, that frustration, that sadness, that vulnerability, and that joy that comes when you finally find a safe space where you can breathe a sigh of a relief for a moment, or take in the beauty of a view or art or a lover and recalibrate.”