By Colin Kirkland
Have you ever found yourself cackling in moments of sheer personal anguish? Sometimes the most human reaction is laughter; when you have no clue what your next move will be, when there’s no possible way to resolve the situation that just took place, or when you become aware of how fucked up your thoughts can actually be. Sometimes you laugh because you know yourself so well, like after you’ve made a decision that you know will be toxic in the near future, whether it’s rekindling a tumultuous relationship or having sex with a co-worker. Recently, I’ve laughed after terrible break-up attempts, during sloppy hangovers, and most regularly, at my own neurosis and buried insecurities. PWR BTTM’s newest single off their upcoming album, Pageant, is about giving yourself a break in times of ultimate inner confusion.
In “LOL”, Ben Hopkins incorporates a heavy vulnerability that reveals itself throughout the entirety of the song — in the breathy high-pitched notes on the pre-chorus/chorus (“You know many things break / I don’t know what to say”), in the powerful reoccurrence of the relatable line, “I didn’t know you could take such a shape”, and in the beautiful harmonies Hopkins does with his mother, Christiane Hopkins, that build to a wondrous manic finale. This is a ballad that explores insecurity in it’s truest, most human form. In repeated moments of emotional, physical, and societal “imperfection,” Hopkins shows us that we can only do so much as to separate ourselves from negativity and choose to laugh along. His message is a catalyst for self-understanding and acceptance.
“I want to dedicate this to anybody who has been made to feel ridiculous because of their gender or who they choose to love,” said Hopkins on NPR’s recording of a PWR BTTM show at this year’s SXSW. “LOL” and many other PWR BTTM tracks are dedicated to people who have been cast out of society by those who continue to stand by an outdated system with outdated rules. With lines like, “When you are queer, you are always 19”, Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins are reaching out to people of the LGBTQ community who feel like they can’t find their place in the world or within themselves. For me, as a straight white guy who has never had much trouble fitting in or making friends, I am infatuated with PWR BTTM’s music and image because I feel like I’m being educated by a first hand marginalized perspective. People will continue to express themselves, and continue to explore whatever feminine and masculine energies they feel connected to. Our world is opening up and PWR BTTM is guiding us through parts unknown with honest, vulnerable intentions, bringing along with them a crucial, positive voice that everyone will benefit from. Just listen.
Check out PWR BTTM’s recent tunes (and killer videos):