About six months or so I published a piece on this blog about what I think was really a sort of phenomenological thing of beauty: a bar full of people I witnessed singing along heartily to “3AM” by Matchbox Twenty. Now, in terms of late-’90s music being divisive, which it apparently is (although for some reason lately it seems like every culture vulture online takes a liking to the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, I guess as a sort of absurdist postmodern concept or something), Lit is a band that tends to bear the absolute brunt of the “low tide,” per se. That is, for every room full of people who were born around 1999 I find singing along to every word of “Semi-Charmed Life,” it seems like there’s the sentiment to downgrade the entire zeitgeist, too (one that contains the razor-sharp humanistic clarity of Everclear’s “Everything to Everyone” and the eccentric coyness of Fastball’s “The Way”), and Lit is pretty much an easy target. Let’s face it.
Well, Lit is also a very misunderstood band. Look at their Wikipedia page: the guys formed in 1988. Christ, they were probably rubbing shoulders with Black Flag and Fishbone in LA. The motherfu**ers have done their homework, as any actual full listen to A Place in the Sun should indicate, on which I think there’s really only one bad song, “Miserable.” The rest of the album is really kind of awesome, from the rocking swagger and snazzy key change in “Down,” the unflappable honesty of the opener (“And we pretend that we’re in love”) to the sweet, celestial respite of “The Best is Yet to Come undone.”
I forget what journal it was but lately I was doing some Third Eye Blind research and I came across this article that contained the phrase “See you in He**, Lit,” the idea behind the bit of congeniality there being that Lit epitomized what’s apparently some sort of phantom rule that mainstream rock in the late-’90s was meaningless, mass-produced sh**. They’re accusing it of being Hozier, in other words.
Well, one problem is that nobody ever seems to play any song by Lit anywhere, on satellite radio, in a bar, on a jukebox, at work, anywhere, other than “My Own Worst Enemy.” Are you guys too afraid of liking it too much? I mean, “Ziplock” is a better song anyway, a single issued around ’98 or ’99 with an accompanying video and everything, in general the guys rock with a force throughout that LP on blistering burners like “No Big Thing” and the title track, the rest of it perhaps leaning toward shmaltzy romance but usually conjealing things around enough of a weighty chorus to at least make the stuff catchy. I mean, the guys were armed with guitars, Fender amps, drums and a garage, and not much else. Well, ok, some killer hair, cars and bikini-clad babes on MTV’s summer break. I forgot about that part. Or I pretended to forget about it.