Every Song on Would It Kill You? by Hellogoodbye Ordered by Time of Year

Would It Kill You? is one of my favorite albums of all time. I don’t remember when exactly I listened to it for the first time, but it was definitely early high school, so not too many years after it was released in 2010. Overall, the album gives off strong summer vibes. But when I thought about it more carefully, I realized that certain songs made me think of very specific times of year on the spring-to-autumn spectrum, and that if I thought hard enough about it, I could reorder the whole album to fit this seasonal timeline. So that’s exactly what I did. Sometimes I take lyrics into account, but my judgements are mostly based on tone, tempo, and mood. My qualifications for this are that I’ve been making playlists for my college radio show for two years, and I spend too much of my life thinking about what individual songs mean to me. (Here’s a spotify playlist if you want to listen along without skipping around.)

Disclaimer: I’ve lived in Massachusetts my whole life so my associations with seasons are entirely based on what the weather is like here, climate change notwithstanding. I’ve also never yet been at a time in my life when I didn’t have summer vacation. Hence, my conception of summer is largely defined by freedom from school at the beginning followed by the inevitable return to school at the end. If you don’t have a similar experience I don’t know how relatable this will be.

1. When We First Kissed

The lyrics of this song are about the hesitant beginnings of a relationship, and it matches the hesitant arrival of spring in late March. There might still be dirty snowbanks lingering on street corners and the wind is chilly, but the ground is thawing and seasonal depression is retreating in the face of warm weather’s imminent arrival. It’s a time of rebirth, or in other words, new beginnings.

2. The Thoughts That Give Me The Creeps

It’s hard to split these two up when the first literally flows into this one, but they also maintain a similar tone. The weather still hasn’t completely decided to warm up, and everyone’s getting increasingly resentful of that fact. At the same time, spring is definitely here, even if some days are colder than others. Despite the fearful lyrics, the song ends in an enthusiastic crescendo, foreshadowing the energy of summer even if we’re not quite there yet.

3. When We First Met

This song sounds like late spring bottled up and turned into audio — that time of year when, if you’re in school, all you want to do is skip class and lie in the sun all day. The flowers are blooming, and the world is finally warm again. Although its lyrics are about a love story, this is one of those songs that communicates pure joy at just being alive, which is exactly how I feel in late May when summer is just around the corner. Both the song and that season make me want to sprint a mile and collapse in a meadow somewhere to soak up the sun.

4. You Sleep Alone

My analysis of this one is pretty divorced from the textual meaning of the song, but it reminds me of the first week of summer in high school when I was brimming with plans for the next two months. It was wonderfully liberating to have no restrictions on my time, but I came up with so much I wanted to accomplish that I exhausted myself before getting anything done. The frantic energy of the guitar and vocals express a similar mood, as does the repeated line, “you’ll never get it done,” even if I’m stripping it of its context.

5. I Never Can Relax

My house doesn’t have central air, so I spend a good portion of every summer in dim rooms with the lights off and the shades partly closed. The upstairs bathroom is often the most bearable place, because not a lot of sunlight gets in through the small window, but the wind blows straight through it. Despite its title, this song feels just as refreshing as that cool breeze, a calm moment on a hot July day.

6. Coppertone

The title of this song alone situates it in the middle of summer. I don’t have much else to say, except that the dreamy quality of the verses and the line in the chorus, “you spend too much time in your head,” reminds me again of high school summers, when I would go weeks at a time without speaking to any of my friends, forgetting the outside world existed.

7. Would It Kill You?

This song’s lyrics reference several times of year, but it feels like it’s happening at the height of summer, on one of those scorchers where no one has the energy to do anything except get increasingly crabby with each other (again, I grew up without air conditioning). The tone of the song is energetic and cheerful, but the lyrics are more cynical, which accurately reflects my experience of most New England summers. I know I’m supposed to be having fun, but in reality I’m just remembering how much I hate the heat and wasting my time.

8. Getting Old

The lyrics of this song are about learning to celebrate aging and the passage of time, so it feels like the moment at the beginning of August when you realize that you didn’t do any of the the things you meant to with the summer. But instead of panicking or getting depressed, you just make a fun to-do list and set about checking things off.

9. Betrayed By Bones

Some of the optimism and energy from the last track is now slipping as the summer comes to an end. It’s late August, when everyone’s trying to go to the beach one last time before they go back to school, but it’s only delaying the inevitable. And even though it’s supposed to be a time of relaxing, the summer has been tiring in its own way, reflected by the slow, dragging tempo of the song.

10. Something You Misplaced

This feels like the most subdued song on the album. The lyrics are still hopeful, but there’s a wistful air to it, too. It feels appropriate for lamenting the end of one phase of the year, perhaps losing some of the freedom of summer, while alluding to the welcome cool of autumn yet to come.

11. Finding Something To Do

This song is the definitive soundtrack for driving around on September evenings, when the days are getting shorter and the light is turning orange before the leaves do, but the hot air from summer is still hanging around. It hasn’t really sunk in that school is back in session, but there’s also a sense of anticipation. Whenever I hear this I feel like I’m looking forward to autumn whenever it finally arrives while still celebrating summer’s last breath.

12. Not Ever Coming Home (Deluxe Edition bonus track)

This song isn’t technically on the main album lineup, but I love it too much to leave it out. Maybe my sense of this song is colored by the fact I heard it in my first month back at college last fall, or maybe it really is tonally different than the songs that made it onto the album, but it sounds much more fully set in autumn. The leaves are orange and red and starting to turn brown, the wind is starting to bite with cold. Gray clouds cover the sky more often than not, but there are still days when the sky makes a brilliant blue background for the colorful trees. The calendar year is coming to an end, but the school year is just getting underway. Autumn is a weird, contradictory time, but this song feels like relaxing into the beauty of it despite any regrets we may have.

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I write a mix of serious and silly pieces about music, other media, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I’m interested in how history shapes culture.

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Ely Willard

Ely Willard

I write a mix of serious and silly pieces about music, other media, and whatever else strikes my fancy. I’m interested in how history shapes culture.

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