i love these roads where the houses don’t change


I have a strange relationship with the suburbs. Growing up on the outskirts of the big city has both its benefits and drawbacks: the calm and safety of my quaint neighbourhood is nice, but pales in comparison to the rush and hustle of the city centre. Though my upbringing was definitely less exciting than that of the youth lucky enough to grow up next to a metro station, my moments of boredom were always occasions for me to soak in whatever music I happened to enjoy at the moment. I was a teen of many genres and phases, ranging from Half Moon Run to Taylor Swift to Björk, but one album has been consistently narrating my life since the very day it came out when I was 14 years old: Pure Heroine by Lorde.


For the past 5 years, I’ve listened to this album, at least in part, almost every day. To say the least, it is the soundtrack to my adolescence: each chorus, bridge, lyric and beat reminding me and pulling me back to a specific moment I had growing up. I’ve cried to Ribs, had the best drive of my life to A World Alone, danced to Team, and have had seemingly endless nighttime bus rides to Buzzcut Season. I’ve wanted to tackle this album for what seems like forever, trying to find ways to do it justice, but I didn’t think it would be best to do so while still living the feelings and events described in this masterpiece. 


As I approach my twenties, and my old distaste for suburbia turns into a bittersweet nostalgia, I find myself listening to this album more than I ever have before. It reminds me of scattered moments over the course of the past five years; friendships come and gone, adventure, disappointment, and ecstasy, and compresses them into a supercut highlighting the most memorable moments of my teenage years. Everyone I used in this project means something to me. Every location, every concept, and every feeling is a tiny piece of what suburbia looks like through my eyes.


There’s something about the feeling of walking around Lachine alone after the worst day of the summer, or watching the sun slip under the horizon from the Beaconsfield overpass on a cold evening, or seeing the field you used to sneak into turn into another block of featureless condos that no one will ever really understand the same way that I do. That’s the beauty of the suburbs; through miles of decaying neighbourhoods, cracked pavements and vaguely similar houses are countless young people who have made these towns their own. No two stories are the same, but the feeling of missing something that we didn’t appreciate in the first place is somewhat universal. Despite differences, in many aspects, Lorde’s feelings towards her adolescence just outside of the city limits are a spitting image of mine. 


Each photo in this series is directly inspired by one of the songs on this album: Ten songs, ten diptychs, and ten different ways to describe what happens on these roads where the houses don’t change. 

  tennis court    Baby be the class clown I'll be the beauty queen in tears It's a new art form showing people how little we care We're so happy, even when we're smiling out of fear Let's go down to the tennis court, and talk it up like yeah

tennis court

Baby be the class clown
I'll be the beauty queen in tears
It's a new art form showing people how little we care
We're so happy, even when we're smiling out of fear
Let's go down to the tennis court, and talk it up like yeah

  400 lux    I love these roads where the houses don't change (and I like you) Where we can talk like there's something to say (and I like you) I'm glad that we stopped kissing the tar on the highway (and I like you) We move in the tree streets I'd like it if you stayed

400 lux

I love these roads where the houses don't change (and I like you)
Where we can talk like there's something to say (and I like you)
I'm glad that we stopped kissing the tar on the highway (and I like you)
We move in the tree streets
I'd like it if you stayed

  royals    My friends and I we've cracked the code We count our dollars on the train to the party And everyone who knows us knows that we're fine with this We didn't come from money

royals

My friends and I we've cracked the code
We count our dollars on the train to the party
And everyone who knows us knows that we're fine with this
We didn't come from money

  ribs    The drink you spilt all over me 'Lover's Spit' left on repeat My mom and dad let me stay home It drives you crazy, getting old

ribs

The drink you spilt all over me
'Lover's Spit' left on repeat
My mom and dad let me stay home
It drives you crazy, getting old

  buzzcut season    And I'll never go home again (place the call, feel it start) Favourite friend (and nothing's wrong when nothing's true) I live in a hologram with you

buzzcut season

And I'll never go home again (place the call, feel it start)
Favourite friend (and nothing's wrong when nothing's true)
I live in a hologram with you

  team    We live in cities you'll never see onscreen Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things Living in ruins of a palace within my dreams And you know we're on each other's team

team

We live in cities you'll never see onscreen
Not very pretty, but we sure know how to run things
Living in ruins of a palace within my dreams
And you know we're on each other's team

  glory and gore    No-one 'round here's good at keeping their eyes closed The sun's starting to light up when we're walking home Tired little laughs, gold lie promises, We'll always win at this, I don't ever think about death It's alright if you do, it's fine

glory and gore

No-one 'round here's good at keeping their eyes closed
The sun's starting to light up when we're walking home
Tired little laughs, gold lie promises,
We'll always win at this, I don't ever think about death
It's alright if you do, it's fine

  still sane    Today is my birthday, and I'm riding high Hair is dripping, hiding that I'm terrified But this is summer, playing dumber than in fall Everything I say falls right back into everything

still sane

Today is my birthday, and I'm riding high
Hair is dripping, hiding that I'm terrified
But this is summer, playing dumber than in fall
Everything I say falls right back into everything

  white teeth teens    The way they are, the way they seem is something else, it's in the blood Their molars blinking like the lights, in the underpass where we all sit And do nothing and love it

white teeth teens

The way they are, the way they seem is something else, it's in the blood
Their molars blinking like the lights, in the underpass where we all sit
And do nothing and love it

  a world alone    All the double-edged people and schemes They make a mess then go home and get clean You're my best friend, and we're dancing in a world alone, A world alone We're alone

a world alone

All the double-edged people and schemes
They make a mess then go home and get clean
You're my best friend, and we're dancing in a world alone,
A world alone
We're alone