Phineas and the Lonely Leaves – Kids We Used to Be

January 01, 1970



The oldest you ever feel is when you’re still relatively
young, around the mid-to-late 20s when the adult world comes crashing in. Serious
jobs, serious relationships, rent, debt, taxes, aging parents,
responsibilities: it all looms up in the years just after college. It’s the
kind of thing that can tinge even the most quotidian adolescent experiences
with the golden glow of nostalgia. Driving around aimlessly, nursing cokes in
grubby diners, setting off fireworks at the beach…ah yes, the kids we used to



 Kids We Used to Be, the second album from upstate New Yorkers
Phineas and the Lonely Leaves, captures this bittersweet phase with exceptional
grace. In nine songs (and one reprise), songwriter Tim Feeney frames elliptical
tales of adjusted expectations with unsentimental country rock melodies. His
vibrato-tinged twang balances between hope and discouragement. The upsweep of
possibilities lifts “Next Summer” into a swirl of guitar-jangling euphoria, yet
by the next track, “Museum of the Gone”, the narrowness of the old bedroom’s
twin bed, the classic rock mirror of a deceased uncle suggest walls that are
closing in, hopes that are being deferred.



The title track is the standout here, building anticipation in
a high piano cadence, then kicking into high gear with a strumming, giddily
unsettled beat. Kids who left for college come drifting back, defeated. Girlfriends
slip away, out towards the wider world. Potential fades. Reality sets in, but
Feeney, for one, isn’t giving up without a fight. There’s a fierceness to the
drum-kicking refrain, “We have to remember this place/We have to remember these
days,” as if we’d caught him in the midst of an argument about how long he’s
going to hang around his dead-end home town.



All this makes The
Kids We Used To Be
sound like kind of a downer, but in fact, it blares positive
feelings like the boom box in the back seat in one of the songs. In “Bros. of
Summer,” old buddies crack a few to celebrate a reunion, remembering girls at
malls and VFW Halls and “the gas stations and parking lots and diners where we
grew up.” The mood is as happy as it is wistful. “When you’re in town, let’s
knock it down tonight,” sings Feeney against fist-pumping bursts of guitar and
drums. The Kids We Used to Be is a
memoriam for lost youth, a rallying cry for one last night of debauchery, and a
damned impressive album. It makes you wonder what Feeney might be capable of
when he finally decides to grow up.


Kids We Used to Be,” “The Bros. of Summer,” “Museum of the Gone” JENNIFER KELLY


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