Sentimental Sevens is a series in which our contributors retroactively give a personally important album a 7/7, our perfect score.
Being in eighth grade is rough, man. The potential for heartbreak during that time is as real as the looming giant of high school and bagged lunches. Anyone that knew me during that time knows that it came for me in bunches – a lost soul looking for love in all the wrong places. Either that or I was just an over-excited 13 year old boy that expected to find a high school – nay, middle school – sweetheart. But I digress.
It was at this time that one of my many crushes told me to listen to a band called Mayday Parade. Being someone who was most definitely “in love” and needing to impress this girl, I obliged. Soon after I was given a burned CD-R copy of 2007’s A Lesson in Romantics, and I mean with all sincerity that the way I felt about music had changed completely after I listened to this record. It was such an honest and straightforward representation of the ache that comes with love and loss, coupled with an image of what young love can and should look like. The lyrical content hemorrhages references to running away together and the “jump-in” relationship approach, but doesn’t mince words when it comes to communicating just how horrible of an idea that actually is. Looking back and reading the title of this record alone, the band was spot on with the name. As a recent teenager I had no experiences of my own to paint my expectations, so this album literally became my how-to book on how to love. “Jamie All Over” was there for me when I was reeling from my first kisses and first relationships, and “Miserable at Best” was on repeat when I felt those first earth-shattering breakups. It was the whole package – an absurd, over-the-top, but incredibly effective representation of the way that these things feel.
On the cusp of the album’s tin anniversary (10 years!!), I recently dove back in and realized how right these guys were. Sure, it’s chock full of pop punk angst and ideologies (i.e. the song title “You Be the Anchor That Keeps My Feet on the Ground, I’ll Be the Wings That Keep Your Heart in the Clouds”), but these songs and feelings are the silver screen representation of growing up and learning how to deal with being lovesick. It was a weird pinnacle of emotional music that at this point seems too kitschy and cheesy to create, but dammit if Mayday Parade wasn’t accurately depicting the youth’s relationship culture at the time, then nothing was. It was wise yet innocent, and that blinded reception to mid-20’s love is what everyone in every generation needs to grip on to at least once. Does it hold up today? Maybe. But for all of you folks out there that missed the boat and are wondering just what to do with your bleeding heart, then maybe you’re due for A Lesson in Romantics. You let me know if it has the same effect.