Jessie Recommends: “Sweet Avenue” by Jets to Brazil

“Sweet Avenue” made me nostalgic the first time I heard it, before I had any memories of my own to attach it to. It’s that kind of song.

This is what it sounds like: lazy, comfortably melancholy. It’s just Blake Schwarzenbach’s voice and acoustic guitar for the first 1:22, and even when the full band comes in with that melodic bass line and the soft ting of the cymbal it’s still so deliciously lackadaisical. The lyrics mention most of the things that tug on the strings of my emo heart: rain and trains, moons and cigarettes. It’s sorta sexy, too. The very first line is tasting you and rain. Hella swoon, right? And Blake’s voice, ragged and earnest…he is maybe the only person in the world who could sing I go ‘oh wow’ without it sounding super cheesy. I love everything about this song, including the instrumental bit that starts at 3:49 and lasts until the end, the guitar-and-tambourine jangle.

But this is what it really sounds like: waking up with a lover and not wanting to wake them, so you slip out of their arms, leave them a note, grab your jacket. The rain is chilly, but gentle when it gets under your collar and onto your skin, and the whole city smells clean. Everything kind of hurts to look at — you’re so happy but also sad because all intense emotions twine together, and you see every street sign and sewer grate with new clarity. You get home, crack the window, put a record on. The needle’s dusty so there’s this pop-hiss mixed with the music and from outside comes the plink of rain on fire escape, and you light a cigarette and sigh and everything is soft and sweet.

It’s the kind of song that fills you with longing for a thousand moments and a thousand lovers, real and imagined. It’s the soundtrack to every personal anniversary that ever bloomed out of a love affair, even if the love affair didn’t last much longer than the duration of this song.

(Song recommendation by Jessie Lynn McMains)

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