Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.
My lovely coworker (and local DJ) Megan Seling gave me this Operation Ivy album a long time ago because the pie chart of her heart has an entire slice set aside just for them. When I told her this week that I was finally listening to Energy, she smiled the biggest smile I've ever seen, and I started to feel scared. What if I didn't like it? What if I had to go back over to her desk and say, "Megan, this is terrible and it makes my ears hurt. I will never understand why you love this crap." What if, after that, I could always detect under her polite smiles a tinge of disgust? WHAT IF OP IVY RUINED EVERYTHING?
And then I listened to it, and... ugh, I couldn't stand it! I found myself making faces while I listened, the face you make when eating something gross. My sour music face and I walked around the city feeling bummed. Op Ivy were grating and kind of annoying, and I didn't understand the point, because the lyrics didn't sound like they were really deep or anything. They just sounded like "All I know is that I don't know/All I know is that I don't know nothin'," which, come on.
Like always, I slogged my way through the album, and then when it ended, I started over, and I just kept going. And at some point, parts of it started to make sense. Rhythmic shouting! I love it! "Freeze Up" is so excellently staccato ("Just one political song!"), and so is "Bombshell." I started to hear a little bit of that reggae/ska punk thing that I remember from listening to older punk, and then I started to hear how the dudes in the crappy pop-punk bands of my youth listened to these guys. Then I felt like the biggest and best music-understander ever. I knew what it must have felt like to listen to this in a teenage bedroom, and I got why it would have been fun.
I asked Megan a few questions about her Op Ivy love, and it made me love them more. She "bought their CD from a used CD store in Everett" when she was 15, "long after they broke up," and she had an Op Ivy sticker on the back window of her first car. She said she loved them because they were "messy and loud and still catchy," and when I asked her if she still loved them now, she said: "I do! I really, really do. They remind me why I loved music in the first place. It was energizing and comforting and it didn't have to be perfect or even good, really, to mean something or say something." Awwwwwww.
I give this a "sometimes you just gotta keep trying" out of 10.