Continuing a trend of transformation started on their two previous albums, North Hills and Nothing is Wrong, Dawes delivers an entirely new sound for Stories Don’t End. Focusing on the common themes of love, pain, and stagnation, the band explores a more classic sound, melding Wilco Being There-style songwriting with 1970s Southern rock. Here are the top 10 lines from Stories Don’t End, picked by Stereo IQ from Dawes’ master class in lyricism. – Gavin Matthews
“From the right angle, in the right light/ I might seem like I could take care of you”
Under the spell of love and the need for comfort, nearly any promise is possible. However, in reality, things are far from easy. Given the right circumstances, Taylor seems to be stable, together, and able to support his love. Outside of the mist of trust, the truth is far different. Just as willing to buy the lies as the truth, Taylor knowingly walks into the flames.
9. Hey Lover
“But I want to raise with you and watch our younglings hatch/ Fucking make the first letters of their first names match”
Part of a four-perspective look at life’s lowest points, this take on the “trailer park” family perfectly captures a blind dive into love. With no regard for the consequences, the singer only wants to raise children in love, naming them Billy, Bobby, and Brad and forgetting the odds. But in the end, there’s something organic and hilarious in the line, a subtle nod to carefree garage rock and Southern roots that bites.
8. Side Effects
“If there was no word for love now/ We’d see how strong it really is”
Dawes approaches the classic question: does the word “love” carry the meaning, or does the feeling exist on its own? Instead of relying on the motions of claiming love, Taylor challenges his relationship to bear the weight of having to actually talk. Already expecting the worst, he realizes that the love he feels, and the love the relies on, is actually not as strong as desired.
7. Most People
“As she listens very carefully to a room of conversation/
She can feel the planet orbiting through space”
We’ve all been there, watching the room move around us while we exist in a separate world. Listening in to the different conversations, arguments, and sounds of the room, we notice greater motions of the planet and dream of life’s big questions. Detached from it all, and not really in a good or bad space, life moves on, leaving us the observers of the planet as it spins away.
“Just beneath the surface there’s another one of me/ At the root of all my trouble, in the twitch before I speak”
Holding his demons close, Taylor in “Just Beneath the Surface” struggles to resist breaking out. While he outwardly appears together, his battle threatens to spill out into real life, ruining the fragile balance he holds. The problem is all too common, with each of us holding back something every day.
“But all my best kept secrets are the ones I didn’t know I had/ So I couldn’t even tell her if I wanted”
We hide things even from ourselves. Unable to fully share himself because of this deep unknown, Taylor feels more detached than he should. Though he wanted to keep part of himself secret, he loses all autonomy to the darkness. The lack of awareness may be common, but the effects are crippling.
4. Just My Luck
“I spend my whole life moving forwards/ But understand it looking back”
Most live their life day to day, jumping ahead as best as possible and hoping for positive change. Moving only forward, they often fail to see the full reality of choices and the consequences of every action. Yet, like in history, 20/20 hindsight explains all. Taylor is fully able to leap ahead in life, but realizes that any understanding his actions can only be found after the fact.
“‘Cause when you don’t know where you are going/ Any road will take you there”
The easiest way to make it to a goal is to not know where the finish line is. Taylor, traveling on a flight, realizes the ultimate truth: we all wander, looking for places, things, and people that change by the minute. Any route you take is as good as the other, so long as you move. The truth can be beautiful.
“Stories don’t end/ They go on and on/ Just someone stops listening”
Playing on the idea that the only dead are those that are forgotten, “Stories Don’t End” puts it bluntly: a tale only ends when its audience gives up. The same goes for romance, people, and ideas. For the singer’s relationship, both characters moved on, still aware of the plot and chapters, but never reaching an end. Flip the page.
1. Most People
“Like January Christmas lights under billion year old stars/ She comes up with more of what is lost than what is found”
The imagery here brings it all home. The twinkling of hundreds of leftover Christmas lights seem to duel the billions of stars above, mixing the close and the far. As a sweeping analogy, the woman tries to make the real lights explain the seemingly ancient and unreal stars, coming up with no answers. In the end, even with the lights mimicking the stars, more questions than answers remain.