by Johnny Papan
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Dead End Drive-In
A Worthwhile Endeavour (Early Onset Records)
Vancouver’s Dead End Drive-In has built a reputation in the local punk scene for causing Guinness-flavoured debauchery. Its eclectic mix of folk punk, skate and garage rock is diverse and gritty, and introspective lyricism gives audiences something to think about while chanting, dancing, and moshing at live gigs. The band’s thoughtful exploration reaches new heights as its latest release, A Worthwhile Endeavour, seems to be its most soul-searched release to date.
Thematically, A Worthwhile Endeavour explores life’s challenges while reflecting on death. The raucous yet atmospheric track “Chasing Dreams is a Death Sentence” comments on the struggles of following one’s passions, comparing them to rolling rocks uphill. Meanwhile, “Left in the Rearview” is about coming to terms with the past and letting go of youth’s naivety in order to look forward to a clearer future.
The album’s first single, “Human Spirit,” starts out optimistically before Dead End Drive-In takes a quick and sharp thematic turn, voicing its disdain with self-sabotage. It comments on how life can be so blissful, yet we still haunt ourselves with feelings of not having enough, which drags us deeper into internal emptiness.
Tracks like “Everyone Gets a Turn to Rot,” “The Mortal Coil & The Midnight Oil,” “Dying Breed” and “God Forbid You Go Off Script” examine death through various lenses. Whether it be coming to terms with our own demise, reflecting on the life that was or could have been, or wanting to live forever, they offer a lot to think about. These songs serve as a mirror, imploring us to ask ourselves if we like what we see thus far.
Overall, there is a beautiful darkness in the messaging of A Worthwhile Endeavor. While much of it feels fuelled by hardship, there’s an undertone of still being grateful for the ride and understanding that it’s never too late to turn things around. It’s a reminder that we’re all going to end up in the ground one day, and it’s up to us to put our old ghosts to rest and make life a worthwhile endeavour.