Night Windows is a project started by Benjamin Hughes. His self-engineered/produced album, Musicassette/Magnetic Memory, was crafted from the perspective of a young man facing a reality far different from the one promised him in his youth.
A 26 year-old with a bachelor’s degree worth of debt and a series of unrelated day jobs to pay it back, Hughes is a poster boy for the bursted-bubble millennial generation. He sings about being part of a downtrodden blue-collar work force, helping loved ones through hard times and clinging desperately to his musician dreams which ebb to the margins of his days. With his acoustic guitar, a hand-me-down drum kit and an array of gritty lo-fi instruments and effects, Hughes shaped this seamless 12-track debut album in his bedroom; creating an album with an authentic tone and a personal character you only get with quality lo-fi music.
The record kick starts with Time which has good, thought provoking lyrics. Everyone can relate to how Hughes feels; life is hectic and there’s so much people want to do with their lives but there is never enough time. We all have to work long hours to get by leaving us little time to enjoy the real things in life. We all wonder sometimes if we will ever live a fulfilled life. Hughes it expresses a dislike of following the norm and doing as people tell him, as society lays it out, “When they stick their guns in to my back and then they tell me/To walk the plank that’s straight and laid out right in front of me/No matter what I left behind/We’re all just doing time…”. Hughes questions the idea of working for ‘the man’, he challenges this accepted idea within society in this track, “For the man who’s sitting in that big leather chair/Counting all of his gold coins there/He laughs at us when we say “Life’s not fair”…”. We all want to drift from this sometimes, we’re always searching for something more – working is not the be all and end all. It’s part of the human condition – we’re always chasing something more to make us happy.
Brothers is a really sweet ballad about brotherly connection and an event that brought these brothers closer together. This song explores the idea that it’s the simple things in life that really matter – it’s those special moments you share with people that are much more important than the office you sit in all day every day.
There’s A Friend Of Mine is a punk rock inspired track with beautifully inspirational and supportive lyrics about supporting your friends and encouraging them to be confident and face the world and what it throws at them, “But if you only knew how she really feels about you/Then maybe you wouldn’t act so afraid/When she’s walking your way/Stand up boy and look her in the face/Because you’re a friend of mine/Don’t worry all the time/You got to stand alone/Because that’s the only way that you are going to grow.”
Stay Asleep is brilliantly juxtaposing combining uplifting melodies with dampening lyrics. It’s a song about having to work and doing something totally unfulfilling. This is a feeling that everyone can relate to at some point in their life with most people probably feeling this way every day. Stay Asleep has great lyrics which sum up the life of a boring 9-5 job, “And now I’m waking up into a world where/I only dream of the next holiday or lunch break…” Now you can’t tell me that’s not how you feel most mornings?
Commit is a really catchy number with lots of layers to it. The drum beat sounds raw and live which comes from the lo-fi sound and recording of the record. It has that sort of busking feel to it which is what probably adds to its catchiness.
The Good Life (Promotion) is a protest song against the big earners, the money driven mad people that will hurt anyone to get “the good life”, “Living the good life where we tread on everyone else and don’t think twice…” It focuses on the delusion some people have that money will make you happy and give you everything. It explains that actually this life might be something you regret, “But really, what did you expect?/When you signed your name and said ‘yes’ to the life you’d eventually regret…” Hughes explores the issues surrounding this idea that all young people should turn to business in order to succeed. The creative arts are shunned as feasible jobs in schools and college but what happens if you’re not interested in becoming a business man and your heart lies elsewhere? These are the issues Hughes explores in this song.
Green Shirt starts with a brilliant speech which most people can relate to; the worry that you’re not living to your full potential; the fear that you’re not living every day to the maximum; the hatred that you feel when you realise that the pointless job you’re doing is stopping you from amounting to what you could or should be. This track also talks about the idea of the media and the pressure we feel to fit in, to have that high paid stressful job, to be in suit and tie, to be commercially driven and in favour of capitalism. The end of the song changes and there’s a realisation that actually we are all completely fulfilled; we have family, friends and love. It doesn’t matter about our jobs, our success rates, our material things, “So you with that shirt and tie/Fuck you and your senseless lies…”
Green Shirt is a lovely way to end an album that sings about the unfairness in life, the constant feeling of never being enough, the fight we all have with ourselves about the direction we’re going to take in life, the need to work to survive and pay bills but also suffering with the realisation that this doesn’t fulfil you. Green Shirt is a song that sums up all these things in one – we are all free and can all be happy if we just ignore the pressures around us and if we just step outside of that media and commercially driven society.
Musicassette/Magnetic Memory is a fantastic debut album with Hughes singing about the things in life that truly matter. For 26 years old, he has a wisdom that shines through and is above and beyond his years. He’s realised what most people realise too late or not at all – that your life is for living and you must make the most of it. It’s not about money or greed, it’s about the simple things. If you’re feeling lost and alone in your thoughts, this album will help to comfort you. It’s a recommendation for everyone.
Musicassette/Magnetic Memory is out on April 15 via Black Road Records.