Photo by Sam Colby, Written by Danielle Chelosky.
“Stop when I’m done,” proclaims James McDermott within the first two minutes or so of Bay Faction’s long-awaited Florida Guilt. In a record compiling dazed moments of hedonistic youth, that line becomes the source for every conflict — the inability to cut off bad habits and to walk away at the right time.
From flirting in CVS in “It’s Perfect” to getting high in the city in “Florida Guilt,” Bay Faction is playing through a roll of film and showing mere snapshots of memories associated with emotion. The memories are personal and specific, yet the album translates as a soundtrack for all adolescents — conflicted, constantly oscillating between discontent and ecstatic. In just twenty minutes, the band saves you from watching all seven seasons of Skins.
The best part about hedonism is the feeling of inconsequentiality in everything; the worst part about hedonism is the reality of consequentiality in everything. McDermott can’t seem to escape this dissonance — as aware of it he is, he can’t accept it.
“You’ll never hear from me / Don’t ever hit me back again,” he demands in “It’s Perfect,” a song about remedying loneliness with physical satisfaction and money. “Just call me when you want,” he sings afterward, unwilling to make changes about his own discontentment. After all, teenagers are supposed to derive pleasure from sex and money, and McDermott will keep trying despite the personal dissatisfaction and emptiness. “I was lonely / You’re older / Money bored to death.”
Materialism hits its peak at youth as another irresistible coping mechanism, and McDermott is an evident victim. With a flood of discontentment and dissatisfaction, there’s this greedy instinct to fill the void with tangible items.
In “1K,” McDermott aspires for financial stability over mental tranquility — “What’s the point if I don’t get it first / Patience sucks I want something I can hold.” The song is fast-paced and dreamy, creating an atmosphere of false elation — the type of temporary solution money can provide.
Florida Guilt ricochets between slow motion and fast forward, from the sluggish opener “Faux Snow Globe” to the manic “1K.” In Bay Faction’s world of seemingly unending youth, everything is extreme and everything is at stake: relationships are either perfect or falling apart, addictions need to be continuously satiated or ended at all at once, insecurities either eat him up or don’t exist.
“I just want to feel permanent / Skinny, cute, & comfortable / But I can’t get that,” laments McDermott in the title track, wishing drugs could fix this haunting desire of his. Instead, he chooses numbness and apathy. McDermott recognizes his own incapability for empathy in “Donor,” singing, “I don’t have the facility to know how you felt / So call it living in the minute, call it living cheap / I call it never be a father, all I think of is me.”
Altogether, this world Bay Faction creates in Florida Guilt highlights the very essence of youth: being aware of problems, but doing nothing to repair them. It’s why adolescence is the most amusing stage of life — teenagers, themselves, are excuses for their mistakes.
As much as McDermott tries to lie to himself with the sardonic title “It’s Perfect,” he knows his desires are not aligned with his actions. Nothing is perfect; youth is full of unfulfillment and confusion. Still, he yearns for the ephemeral thrill that will hold him over for the time being.
Bay Faction stays true in Florida Guilt in their expression of youth — it is playfully honest to the listener, while simultaneously trying to be dishonest to itself to avoid facing problems head-on.
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