Review – “Gopher Wood” – Continental Drift

reviewed by Laura Stanley

I just read Anne Carson’s If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho and it has crept into other corners of my life. One fragment reads: “you will remember / for we in our youth / did these things / yes many and beautiful things.”

These words rattled around in my head as I listened to Continental Drift’s Gopher Wood. Continental Drift (I don’t know their name but I would like to) is 16 and, admittedly, “sad about it”. Gopher Wood, in turn, is an incredibly emotional look at the “many and beautiful things” that happen to you when you’re that age: not quite an adult but definitely not a child.

The majority of the songs are lyrically lengthy and instrumentally sparse which makes me think that everything we hear is unfiltered. At the beginning of “things the dove can hold inside its beak (girl, one),” life and love is full of possibilities but then the feelings of togetherness unravel and you’re alone. You mistook those moments for happiness – “you don’t look like home anymore. I don’t think you ever did.” On “silvermine bay (girl, two)” Continental Drift again sings of ardent love but it’s in the past (“we were both so young”) and I think it has slipped away.

There’s a lot of compelling moments throughout Gopher Wood but I keep returning to the first and last tracks. On opener “pangaea,” we are welcomed with the sound of a crashing waves and Continental Drift ensuring, “Our futures are our own”. The song is simple, ukulele driven, but heavy with the intense worry that comes with seeing your life in front of you and not knowing which way to turn. Closer “to build a boat and never sail” feels like a response to “pangaea”: the ukulele returns and the fears of the future crop up again. “There were no paragraphs about this in the puberty books they wrote,” Continental Drift sings. It’s time to write your own books.

At 16, many of us kept our feelings bottled up or maybe, if you were lucky, were able to urgently whisper them to a friend or someone who was a little more than a friend. But Continental Drift set their emotions free. To wash up on your shore or to get swept up in the wind.

I wish I was that brave.

Top Tracks: “Pangaea”; “To Build a Boat and Never Sail”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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