Five years ago, I was a wide-eyed sophomore in high school, and my church had just recruited a new youth pastor, Trent. He was the gruff yuppie type, the kind you might’ve mistaken for a lumberjack, what with his incessant wearing of flannel and his well-groomed beard. He would often belabor the virtues of beard oil, but seemed like a nice enough guy.
During our annual fall kickoff party, hosted at an absurd lake house owned by members of the parish, Trent decided to lead off his lesson with a song called “Diamond Ring” by Pedro The Lion. I was immediately impressed, enamored, even. I had just made a Spotify account the previous month, absolutely loved Imagine Dragons’ first album and thought Bon Iver was pronounced like Bon Jovi. Put more simply, I’ve come a long way, and I credit Trent with kick-starting my more legitimate interest in music (i.e., one that goes deeper than Dragonforce and Rise Against).
Although the lesson was contrived and awkwardly delivered, Pedro The Lion is still the first band that I look forward to submerging myself in when the leaves start to change and the rain comes down outside my window. I’ll huddle under a blanket, my myriad candles lit and strategically placed around the room while the syrupy voice of frontman David Bazan pours into my ears and out of my mouth in a personally satisfying but objectively poor attempt at replication.
Many of the songs here are songs that I imagine myself listening to in that same environment, smothered in coziness, my dead heartleaf philodendron hanging in the corner of the room. (It’s a sign of the turning of the seasons, I tell myself, knowing full well that I’ve killed it.) Others embody the crisp feeling in the air, when edges of every object look just a little more well-defined than they did through the summer. You’re walking to class just before nine in the morning, or making the trek back home around the same time at night. It’s either raining or there isn’t a trace of humidity in the air. The faint scent of newly dead, freshly fallen leaves is a subconscious reminder that you should be remembering every sad-happy moment you’ve ever lived, and you decide it’s okay to indulge yourself in that sacred, ineffable nostalgia, if only for four minutes at a time.
My goal here is to encourage that indulgence in every aspect of nostalgia. From the light playfulness of Halloween — I remember playing Guitar Hero and pounding Kit-Kat after Kit-Kat in my friend Alex’s basement — to the sincere sentimentality of family gatherings, the longing wistfulness tied to (in my mind, anyway) high school sports and homecoming and the downright regret tied to so much else. We’re happy to have learned, but nothing comes without a cost. In the meantime light a candle, pour yourself a glass of cider, grab a donut if you’re feeling truly adventurous, and enjoy.