Sunday Music: Rationalizing Glitterer’s “Rationale” (While Absolutely Loving This Record)

Seeing Glitterer live in the leadup to this release – I’ve been really excited for it. You know when you can see growth, as an iteration on the past without reiterating the past? That was the vibe. There’s no Title Fight rehashing here, but there is a band again, and most importantly – there’s the feel of a band who’s collectively and proactively working stuff out. 

And, working it out is a great formula for a record about being lost. 

My friend Dave quipped in a Twitter exchange about new music, there’s “SO MUCH SHOEGAZE AND DREAMPOP.” My working theory is the pre-pandemic, younger generation of artists who were able to keep it going are in the process of stumbling into “real” adulthood in the post-pandemic haze. These (mostly) mid-20s to mid-30-somethings are going through it right now. It’s the classic mix of, “Oh crap, life, society, and my anxiety… they’re so real and I officially can’t look away.”

When you look past your phone, but you don’t quite look up – you see your shoes. 

All this shoegaze and dreampop feels like people trying to figure life out. They’re finding belonging musically by sounding halfway between a lazy awareness of pop structure without being ready to fully admit just how much they love pop structure. Midlife is dawning on them.  

This generation is going to have fantastically interesting midlife crises if this is how it’s starting. I’ll be patient (no rushing) for those. But meanwhile, dive into Glitterer’s Rationale with me. This is an excellent record, and this is exactly the place it seems to be arising from. And it contains multitudes. 

To be clear, I’m not here to psychoanalyze Ned Russin, but I do feel compelled to highlight and interpret some of his writing to make a point. There’s honest brilliance in these lines. Here’s a few lyrics from the first two songs on the record. He’s grappling with the structure of modern society through the lens of his age and life experience. It’s a coming of middle age story, in presented in song:

Because I want to be invisible
But I can’t stay that way forever.
-Glitterer, “I Want to Be Invisible”

Gave my life to the road
Broke down with nowhere to go
Gave my life to my phone
Tracked me to make sure I was alone.
-Glitterer, “The Same Ordinary”

When does a job become an identity you want? When does an identity overlap with being a fulfilling job? When does society go from being against you to behind you, if ever? How? WHY?!

The discovery of self in the context of the tribe is a tale as old as humanity. 

If you go back to Glitterer’s Looking Through The Shades you can see it coming. First you depart. Then you go out alone. Shades (see this post on the song, “1001” if curious), is a declaration of starting to process letting go. Rationale is starting to process coming back.   

In a Brooklyn Vegan podcast promoting the release, you can hear Russin struggling to understand what happens when people think of themselves as businesses, and when businesses think of people as businesses. He knows it doesn’t feel “right,” but he’s grappling with what to do about it. There’s no answer. 

No answer except to make art. No answer except to figure out what works for you. No answer except to put a new band together, because that’s what makes him feel whole, and figure it out from there. 

Rationale is a collection of songs capturing the transformation of these anxieties. Glitterer started as Russin’s solo project in response to a band on hiatus. It’s evolved into a band project taking personal development off of hiatus 

The interview finds him wondering if passion and purpose are prison bars, and if we really need jobs at all. He resolves it by stating he still doesn’t have the answers, but he’s choosing to make art that means the most to him, in service to his community, friends, etc. This is the treasure, it’s in his hands, and he’s coming back with a band behind him to share it. 

The next to last song on the album finds him singing, 

There’s a shadow behind me
Close my eyes, so I don’t have to see
This is my
My lonely lightning
Stay inside
My own deciding.
-Glitterer, “My Lonely Lightning”

Rationale is more than a record about being lost. It’s a record about letting go of being found and embracing your place among the lost. It’s about being on a pathless path, finding your people, and building community on your terms as a choice. 

Those “My Lonely Lightning” lyrics suggest he knows there’s a shadow he’s still figuring out how to lean into. How he knows there’s lightning in him too. How letting the lightning out will change the shadow but not quite knowing if or how or for what reason he should decide to try it. 

I can hear the whole album as existing in this space and metaphor: trying to sit in the quiet hole that no longer feels safe, that’s full of shadows and lightnings, that can only exist right before you risk looking up – in case it all falls apart when you finally shift your gaze. 

Back to the Brooklyn Vegan interview. Because this is my favorite part. Because it links back to what the Title Fight stuff clearly taught him, and what he’s working out in his 30s. Because this is what will precede whatever greatness comes next. Be it music, writing, or something else, here’s the TRUTH:

“Do the things that you want, to support the people that you like.” -Ned Russin, Brooklyn Vegan interview, 2024

Welcome to midlife Ned. 

There’s a future where Russin is the next John Darnielle. There’s a future where Russin doesn’t figure it out too. But with that quote – I’m so optimistic. 

He’s got a band again. He’s got the awareness of doing what you love in support of the people you like. And there is a lightning just waiting to be unleashed. 

Press play. 

(here’s a few highlights to get you started)

Didn’t realize this show was on the internet, future is amazing!