Michael Barker describes his little musical project Dying Adolescence as “bedroom pop”. It’s arguably the most apt description for his debut album, Dear You, It Can’t Wait, given the whole thing was recorded and produced in his very own boudoir. Of course it’s not the first time a record has been made in this way, but such solitudinous experiences rarely fail to throw up some magical little tunes that are filled with the trains of thought we all ride.
We guess this is growing up. Navigating the rocky road from boy to man is a tricky one, and it’s one that is reflected well in Dying Adolescence’s debut album Dear You, It Can Wait.
For Barker, bedroom recording started early, messing around with recording sounds at home on a school laptop. If that image evokes a little innocence, it’s certainly carried through on this record. The sounds are simple, basic at times, and lyrically it’s a coming of age tale with a twist. “A lot of the inspiration for the songs comes from my experiences, like finishing high school, meeting girls I’ll never get, turning 18 and feeling lonely,” Barker says.“Things I yearn for also inspire songs.”
Two of those themes — finishing high school and that girl he’ll never get — hit us early in the piece. The album opens with End Of High School, a track that pretty much anyone that’s been to school can relate to. It carries a joyous, wobbly quality; the musical equivalent of a newborn giraffe, legs splayed as it tries to find its balance. Who didn’t feel a bit like that when they walked out of high school for the last time?
Barker hints at the excitement that lies ahead, but at the same time doesn’t appear to trust the illusion that the life ahead is all puppies and rainbows. “Now don’t you expect for a beautiful life,” he sings at the end. “You should accept we’re all going to die.”
Ah the uncertainty of youth.
Last Night, the second track on the album, is all about that girl. Again, it’s charming in its simplicity and straight to the point in terms of the subject matter. Barker’s music has hints of beach pop, aching psychedelia, and indie rock laced throughout the record. Dying — one of the older tracks he’s been holding in his arsenal and arguably the record’s most obvious toe-tapper — tips a big hat to The Cure, while there are also hints of Luke Steele’s work in The Sleepy Jackson at other times.
“That song is about the last camp I went on with Scouts,” Barker explains. “It was one week before I turned 18. Two friends and myself snuck out from our tents after curfew and we went to a lake. We would lay on our backs and watch the stars. We drank bourbon and talked all night. We would dance on the road and try not to get caught by the [scout] leaders. We felt young, we were the ‘Dying Adolescence.”
It took close to three months for Barker — who incidentally is still just 18 — to complete his work on this album, and he hopes to showcase it live in the coming months, accompanied by close friend Gio Alexander, who plays drums live in the two-piece. “We are also releasing a limited run of cassettes through Ztapes, so go grab one,” Barker reveals.