Picture a scathing breakup song in your mind. Got it? Good. Were you thinking a bubbly, sunshiny ditty? Probably not. And yet, “I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California” off Allison Crutchfield’s new album is just that: a blistering F-U to an ex, set to a cheerful, Beach Boys-esque tune. The opening line of the track is that perfectly spiteful one-liner you wish you could launch at that certain past flame: “Darling, you’re too mid-Atlantic.” Ouch. And yet, these pointed lyrics are sung in Crutchfield’s sugary sweet voice and set against a peppy sound that calls into mind classic 60s surf rock. The driving, upbeat bass guitar instantly puts images of California beaches into your head, if you somehow missed the title of the song.
It is this clever pairing that stops Crutchfield’s album from becoming a bitter-sounding cliché of a breakup album. Crutchfield herself has declared that the album is a snapshot of the time following the dissolution of her band Swearin’ and her split from band co-creator Kyle Gilbride. Even though Crutchfield sings “I am really starting to hate you,” there is no textbook wallowing common in post-breakup songs. Crutchfield uses the upbeat music to draw out her message of moving on and leaving her anger (and her ex) behind. She “aspires to live in the present” and not “stay angry” and “tread water” like her ex-lover.
This song is impossible not to groove along to. While it may be tempting to curl up with icecream and the Titanic soundtrack after a bad breakup, I can see the beauty in rocking out to a bright song coupled with cheeky lyrics, middle fingers up and a smile on your face.