The Wrecks “Sonder” Into The Universal Truth of Break-Ups The Wrecks At Noise Nest Studios in Hollywood on June 6th, 2022
LOS ANGELES, CA- “He’s the real deal,” a pretty red-haired woman whispers to me as she leans over the table. I look at the stage towards Nick Anderson, frontman for The Wrecks. He sits alone, tuning his guitar for the second time, it looks as if he could be the loneliest guy in the world, except there is a small smile on his face as he twists the strings of his instrument.
“This song has a weird tuning,” he said. “So if you could just give me a minute, that would be great. But you have to promise to come back once I’m ready!” The crowd laughed as they made their way to freshen their drinks at the bar.
He’s tuning up to play the title track of the band’s new LP, “Sonder,” the band’s sophomore album, which was welcomed into the world on June 10th. The band hosted the launch party for their new album at the Noise Nest Studios in Hollywood on June 6th and offered tailored cocktails, pizza, and cupcakes.
A few minutes earlier, sans the band’s drummer, the band sat one after the other on the stage (including an extra accompanying guitarist) to play an acoustic sample of their new album. I couldn’t help but notice that the souls of their shoes got progressively thicker: Converse, white Nikes, and black clod hoppers that looked something like a fancy pair of Doc Martins. Each member of the band has a distinct look that said, “Indie Pop” in its own special way. Indeed, The Wreck’s indie-pop-punk-you-name-it buoyant sound and a general sense of fun have made them a popular staple in the LA music scene since just before 2020.
Starting out the performance the band launched into “Dystopia,” the sixth track on their album. “We’re building up resentment now,” Anderson intones, “Show me your teeth.” The song builds slowly with a great guitar riff that sneaks in as an electronic undercurrent only to explode out of the chorus about halfway through the song as Anderson belts out, “AHHH! WE’RE ON OUR WAY TO DYSTOPIA!” Before you know it you are bobbing your head and thinking about your last breakup.
In fact, it was a breakup that fuel the album as Anderson worked to process the dissolution of a recent entanglement. “Where are you now?” the album’s third track, which the band played second, reflected memories of a relationship ranging from the good and the bad to the ugly.
Starting out, “You proudly carried your conditions like a cross,” and weaving into lines like, “We were 19, you were nervous. Tracing butterflies on the curtains,” I can’t help but think of every relationship I left where every good memory seemed to have a dried blood stain on it because we left each other rougher than we started — a sentiment perfectly encapsulated in the lines, “To hell with your closure, but I still want mine.”
The night’s third song, “I love this part” sharpened the teeth of the breakup album with lines like, “You’re a danger to society,” and “How come I don’t see the signs? It’s not right,” finally launching into “This is the part where you recognize this is your fault and you made it mine.” The tension of the song reflects the all too recognizable moment in a person’s life when they are simply DONE with someone else. It is a rough, ugly, jagged moment for anyone to reach, but we have all been there in one way or another.
This brings us finally, to “Sonder.”
“OK!” Anderson said good-naturedly, “I’m ready now! You promised to come back!” The crowd quiets slowly as he begins playing the first lines of the song, “All I wanted was some proof,” he sang, “that you cared about others. All I wanted was proof that you understand Sonder.”
Sonder is one of my favorite new words. Developed by John Koenig for his project, “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows,” the word sonder is defined as, “The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.” Yet, Anderson uses this beautiful word to shine a light on an ugly experience. As Anderson sings the line, “Here comes the truth… It’s not about you,” I can’t help but flinch.
“It’s not about you.” is hands down my least favorite statement in the entire English language. And it is one that I often hear bandied about in relationships. But the line gets to the heart of why this album is so good. Enjoyable music aside, the album’s themes hint at a universal truth of break-ups: that the decay of any relationship is ultimately a two-party job, but neither party sees it that way. Break-up conversations that do not vilify the other person are a rarity in the world and they are nearly extinct in LA. The Wreck’s new album doesn’t shy away from this fact. Rather, it stares this fact in the face, shines a light on it, and pours it a drink.
Upon relistening, the layers of the break-up terrors peal off. We hear lines that sound harsh for the third, fourth, or fifth time and we start thinking… “Wait a minute…” And then wonder when maybe we weren’t our best selves during a break-up.
The launch party’s acoustic performance drives home the album’s undercurrent of heavy guilt mixed with still simmering resentment. The reflexive nature of these songs can easily hide within the album’s phenomenal production, but when pulled bare and set to wood, the heaviness of the content comes through acoustically. In short, “Sonder” is cathartic, self-aware, and sneaky in the best way. It is also fun as hell.
And ultimately, the album is an exciting launch pad for the band’s upcoming tour and growth to come. As an elder millennial, I am excited that bands like The Wrecks still have a comfortable home in the LA music scene. They ignite my nostalgia for early-00s pop-punk indie bands while keeping the genre fresh and challenging. It’s going to be a good post-pandemic season for The Wrecks.