Untangling the present and past is a tricky prospect, but that’s what Columbus, Ohio emo artist Superdestroyer set out to do on Pets, his impactful new album on Lonely Ghost Records. Influenced by the likes of Joyce Manor and Modest Mouse, it expands on his 2017 EP of the same title, digging into his complex relationship with hindsight.
“I find that a lot of people are obsessed with the past. I had a lot of friends like that; they were so nostalgic that they quit enjoying the present,” he says. “I used to be like that too. It’s really dark and unsatisfying because you’re perpetually mourning the loss of a moment. I eventually realized that I needed to quit fixating on the past.”
Put another way, on the track “Shaggy,” he sings “Fuck nostalgia and it’s rosy lenses / I lost my mind balancing on fences,” in his rough, post-hardcore yawp.
That change in worldview also gave rise to the album’s animal theme. Each song is named for one of his pets–“Shaggy,” for example, references the hamster who graces the album cover–with at least one lyric per song sung from their perspective.
“I thought it was a good metaphor because we appreciate pets when we have them, but once they’re gone, you eventually get a new and different pet,” he says. “You don’t try to replace them with an identical animal and give them the same name. You move on. I think we should treat life that way in general.”
That said, the album shows that at least where music is concerned, revisiting the past can be useful in showing how far you’ve come. The original Pets EP had no shortage of vision, but Superdestroyer felt held back by a lack of technical know-how.
“I had absolutely no idea what I was doing,” he says. So in rerecording the original three EP tracks, he took the opportunity to punch them up.
“I recorded a real bass line instead of using a synth, did proper drums, elaborated some guitar parts, and redid the vocals. It got them much closer to how I originally heard them in my head.”
As on the Pets EP, all parts are performed by Superdestroyer, with the exception of a vocal feature from Shiloh Destine of HAXXER on “Chip.” You can hear the two years of experience behind him in his much-improved guitar work, with cleaner lines that give the songs’ heavy subject matter more space to land. Along with the enhanced production quality, Superdestroyer sees the album as a show of personal maturation.
“This album is about growing up, being ok with change, and being positive,” he says. “It’s the things I wish I’d said to people.”
You too can make the most of the moment by listening to Pets, now available on most streaming platforms.