It never rains but it pours and sometimes it just pisses it down. I’ve said before on this blog about how certain records seem to come along at the most appropriate time, they coincide with events of your life that give the records an extra weight and meaning. The new Foxing record is a perfect example of this. I have been itching to listen to it as it’s been causing quite a stir amongst the devotees of the 2013 emo scene but nothing could have prepared me for how much of an effect this album would have on me.
As you may well be able to tell, I have always been quite a sensitive person. This seemed to intensify after my wife, Hannah, and I started having kids over 9 years ago, so much so that I would find myself in floods of tears because someone on a reality show was having a hard time and other examples which are all equally as embarrassing. An album like ‘The Albatross’ by Foxing would normally floor me at the best of times but having been starved of sleep for the last couple of weeks, it’s completely wiped me out.
Hannah and I now have four children, the latest being our daughter Indigo who was born in May of this year. Having a new baby you expect there to be some sleepless nights but Indigo seemed to fall effortlessly in to a nighttime routine really quickly. Sadly we weren’t able to savour this great achievement for very long as our youngest son’s behaviour in the night had started to become very erratic. Thurston, is now 5 and was diagnosed with severe autism when he was just 20 months old. He’s never been a great sleeper as he finds it very hard to switch off, he is prescribed medicine to help him get to sleep as part of a bedtime routine but it’s not designed to keep him asleep. When he wakes up in the night then that is that, he’s awake, he’s full of energy and there’s no option but to be there for him.
Recently, Thurston’s sleepless nights have started to become a nightly occurrence and we feel a bit lost at sea with what to do. Before Thurston started school he was offered a lot of support from the under 5’s team at the local children’s centre. He had years of speech therapy, physiotherapy because he also has low muscle tone in his legs and we were able to attend a course to help us understand Thurston’s diagnosis. When it was time for Thurston to start school we were lucky enough to find a mainstream school that could provide, with the help of his own one to one teacher, the support that he needs. But all other support seemed to come to an end, we are now for the most part on our own and as Thurston gets older his behaviour changes and the challenges we face change.
Thurston is an incredibly beautiful person, he is a genuinely happy kid who has the ability to light up rooms with his presence. He has incredibly long eyelashes that contain some kind of voodoo magic because one bat of these lashes can make the most unsuspecting person fall instantly in love with him. It’s really heartbreaking to see his behaviour change, his mood swings to become more evident and his tantrums to become more extreme. He gets frustrated and he lashes out, things need to be how he wants them to be or how he expects them to be otherwise things don’t make sense to him. He sometimes disappears in to a rage and there is no communicating with him, when he comes around he is always immediately regretful if he has ended up hurting or upsetting somebody.
In the last couple of weeks Thurston hasn’t managed to sleep for a whole night, he is going through quite a difficult time and this has really affected him at night. He is now in year one at school which is a big change to what it was like being at school in the reception year. He works hard and is academically doing really well but there seems to be a new structure to his school day that he doesn’t get along with. Everyday there is usually an incident involving screaming, running out of the class room, time on the thinking chair or time spent in a different room to calm down. His new thing is walking in to class and shouting ‘BLOODY HELL’ for no apparent reason but I’ll take some of the blame for that one. At night now he will generally not make it past 2am without waking, his head is full of things that won’t let him sleep and even when he is extremely tired and visibly exhausted he is scared to go back to sleep. It is very hard to watch him nearly doze off to sleep but then force himself to stay awake, it is quite common for people on the autistic spectrum to have this fear where they don’t understand that after they have slept that they will wake up again instead of just sleeping forever. Obviously this has him then stuck in quite a viscous cycle of having a hard day at school because of his lack of sleep and then having a bad night because of the hard day at school he’s just had. Quite a few times recently we’ve been to pick him up from school where his exhaustion has gotten the better of him and we find that he has been asleep since the end of lunch time.
When he wakes up in the night he is completely awake, everyone else is fast asleep and there is only a small window of opportunity between Thurston waking up and him waking everyone else in the house up where you have to find him and then take him downstairs to help him calm down without disturbing anyone else. Left too long and Thurston has worked out that if he opens and slams shut the wardrobe doors in our bedroom then he will get what he wants, which is for us to all be awake. Generally Hannah and I take it in turns to be up in the night but with Indigo being the easiest to disturb it usually works out that we are both awake dealing with a child each. This has made the last couple of weeks hard to deal with, add on to that the normal stress of being a parent of 4 kids with 2 different schools to get to everyday and plus the fact that we’ve just been served notice on our house because our landlord is selling up and we need to find somewhere else to live by February. Don’t even mention that it’s Christmas in a few weeks, please???!!!.
At times like this music is my comfort blanket and ‘The Albatross’ by Foxing has become like a giant, warm duvet encasing me as I lie snuggled underneath in the foetal position peacefully asleep. When I wearily start my car to drive to work after the morning school run the beautifully poetic ‘Bloodhound’ with its sombre piano and gorgeous vocal arrangements comes on the car stereo and starts to feed my soul. Its the respite I need to get through my day. Some people may look to something a bit more upbeat in this situation but the emotion of this incredible record is what I want and its what helps me through. I don’t know the album lyrically very well at the moment but the delivery and tone of the record has meant that I have made this immense connection to it.
‘The Albatross’ feels like one of those touchstone moments that will go on to define an era, in ten years time when it is the ’emo revival’ revival, bands will name check this record as their source material, as their reason why they started their band or why they’re as in love with music as they are. Hannah and I, together, can get through anything, she is as Homer describes Marge ‘as beautiful as Princess Leia and as smart as Yoda’ but like a million times better. She is my soul mate and without her I have literally no idea what I would do. Together we can get through the hard times knowing we’ll make it out intact on the other side. Music completes this and albums like ‘The Albatross’ are there to make everything ok again.
I did mean for this to be a straight up review of the record so I apologise to you and to Foxing for not doing their work of art justice. In my sleep deprived state this is all I could manage, normal service will resume soon and thanks for being a shoulder to rest my tired head on. Please do seek out ‘The Albatross’ because you won’t be disappointed and it may even help you out in your time of need.
To stream/download ‘The Albatross’ by Foxing click here
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