In Hear This, The A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: Songs about endings.
The Strokes, “The End Has No End” (2003)
Like most (Western) folks, I follow the Gregorian calendar, but January 1st has rarely served as a reset button for me. For most of my life, I’ve felt a greater sense of renewal in the fall, because that’s the time of year when the new school year usually begins, as well as when my birthday lands. But I’ve been out of school for some time now, and these tours around the sun are all starting to blend together, so I’m unfazed by the transition from 2015 to 2016 (beyond making a list of pertinent highlights). But if you do happen to be filled with dread and/or excitement, listening to The Strokes’ “The End Has No End” should take some of the edge off.
The Strokes were once the poster boys for ennui (among other things), but here that world-weariness is more soothing than irritating. The identical intro and outro, combined with Julian Casablancas’ reliably distorted vocals, contribute to the song’s air of familiarity. Although thematically it reminds us that everything that’s happening has happened before, “The End Has No End” isn’t a dismal tune, especially not when paired with its music video, which features the band’s manager as a man whose life flashes before his eyes (along with a few nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey). The events don’t follow a strict chronology, instead flashing backward and forward—we see the man’s loving mother, then his loving girlfriend, and later, his loving wife. He graduates from school, grows complacent at work, and finally, slumps before a monolith. It’s not a perfect or even extraordinary life, but it’s a long one, which is kind of comforting as another new year rolls around.