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“pack your bags the sun is growing” from bedbug has granted immortality

Change is the one constant natural state of the world. Traveling along the flow of change into new experiences is what molds people. Yet, those past experiences never really end. They linger on for eternity in their own separate plane tinging and influencing the movement of what is happening now. Every single person’s present self has been shaped by their past states. The new record pack your bags the sun is growing from bedbug feels formed around this universal law.  

This album marks a change for bedbug. Dylan Gamez Citron, the artist behind the project, crafted the songs in a new way. With previous bedbug releases, they wrote and recorded all the music in their bedroom, assembling the songs on a four-track recorder. Inspired by artists like Brave Little Abacus, they made lo-fi folk pop songs with an emo flair, and a plethora of samples interwoven into the melodies. It was dawned with an intimate sincerity that many people deeply connected with. Creating music at that time was a relatively solitary exercise for them. When I talked with Dylan about the new album, they said it was enhanced from eventually being ingrained in the Boston area scene. From this they enlisted the help of friends as band members and recorded in a studio.  

bedbug band. Image via Dustin J. Watson

“I’m like kinda weird with the way I write stuff. I don’t really know how people write stuff as a group,” they said on the album’s songwriting process. “I would bring a basic guitar structure and some vocals, and then I would bring that to the band where we would all decide what parts would go where, and how they would sound.” This new collaborative approach made the songs larger, and fundamentally changed bedbug’s sound.  

It was so different that Dylan stated, “I was considering having a new band name for the record, but everyone told me not to do that, and it would be a waste of resources and reputation.” pack your bags never abandons the methods of the older releases. Instead, it makes the vibe of the tracks from previous albums fuller and more enveloping. It’s like they grew and are now wrapped around you laying down while you listened rather than crawling around your hands as you stare off into the distance by yourself. The past sentiments still exist in the current entity. 

The creation of the album was also a great time of person change for Dylan. They moved from the Boston area in Massachusetts to Los Angeles for work in 2022, just after the songs on pack your bags were written. While that move hadn’t happened yet, they said it still occupied their mind, and informed the album. The change from moving from one part of the country to the direct opposite, and all the anticipation that comes with that is stark. “seasons on the new coast” shows this preemptive thought from the title, but also with the opening line “Snow banks still grow, without me,” and the lyrics about leaving people someone cares about behind.  

Image via bedbug

Recurring throughout the record too is this theme of moving across the wide expanses of land that make up the country. Skies that oscillate between wide open swathes of gleaming blues, and dark backdrops dazzled with trillions of stars cascade above. Images of the sun’s light sprawling rainbows on dashboards, or the desire to drift and dance across the imaginary interstate lines inhabit the album. The song “postcard” gives a more rebellious flair to this attitude, burning down everything you want to leave behind, and moving on to more prosperous things. All this bolsters the pack your bags motif that shows up in several songs and gives the album its namesake. It describes the journey of picking up your life and traversing to new far-off locations. Feelings of excitement and melancholy can come with that change.  

Bright, mellow indie folk tunes lull the listener. Quaint synth blips trickle in around the analog sounds. Dylan’s raspy, anxious, quietly murmured vocals have a very soothing nature. These aspects give each song this tender feeling. Each song transudes through the listener’s spirit, like the honeyed scent of forested air. Never dissipating, it stays there like a long reassuring embrace. It has a deep, yearning atmosphere, trickled in by the halcyon days of youth.  

For me it’s reminiscent of summer day trips I went on with one of my parents that went along driftless, wooded highways weaving through to whatever blissful destination lay at the end of the road. The ground dappled in the leaves’ shadows, with nearby bodies of water glimmering in the same light. It recollects memories of sitting alone along bluffs staring out and being overwhelmed by the bright pastels of the sky during sunset. Jovial and sweet memories that hum behind the vault of the past. 

Dylan Gamez Citron. Image via bedbug

Welding these feelings together, Dylan said, “I sometimes pull from two or three different strains of thought. The reason that I think it works is that I try to keep the emotion that is conveyed in that moment consistent. As long as that’s consistent, I don’t think it really matters if you can follow the story. I think it’s more important if you can follow the feeling.” To garner these reactions from the listener, they string together ambiguous common experiences that are easier to relate to. “I don’t know if there’s any clear meaning to it. It’s more in that collage way of how someone feels,” they said. “Everybody has had some experience with a long car trip. Stars are the same way. Everybody has a couple memories of a time when they could take the stars in.” 

Deep rooted nostalgia seeps in from these shared feelings. They are shown through in the songs’ compositions and how they glide with the lyrics. Dylan cites a specific example of driving around the streets of their empty suburban hometown in New York, blasting music. They said how it was their first taste of freedom with getting their own car. That specific memory is a thought that went into the album, but it’s not the main message they were trying to communicate.  

“I’m never trying to give it away too much, it’s never so intentional of what I’m trying to get people to think,” Dylan said on how they form songs. “It’s up for interpretation. So how I interpret it isn’t how other people should interpret things. That’s been some weird feedback I get. Some people will be like ‘wow that was really beautiful,’ some people would be like ‘your song is really funny,’ and I’m like, ‘wahh okay?’ I just have no idea how people would interpret things.” With their songs, they try to portray specific feelings. A lot of that is connected to joy and sorrow, loneliness and hopefulness, and all the connections to coming of age nostalgia. They’re universal but complicated emotions. 

Sensitivities to nostalgia make up the being of pack your bags. During one of my listens through the album, I was lying in a small park surrounded by taller buildings in St. Louis during my Spring Break. It was the first tolerable day of the year to be outside, with bright skies, sparse woolly clouds, vibrant grass, and sturdy but generous winds. As I was listening to the record, I felt overwhelmed by the scene, and the retrospective images they unearthed. The instrumentals, with their earnest and warmly tender folk sensibilities only enhanced this feeling, sprouting further from the ground, with tendrils tangling around my limbs. 

Image via bedbug

Rippling in was the track “mount moon”, the only sample heavy track on the album, with darling spacey synth blips backed by a clapping drum machine loop, and a precious ambience seeping through the gaps in the foliage. Whispers of “Today will look just like heaven,” hang around like the essences of past conversations soaked into the land. At either end of the song are voicemail samples from Dylan’s grandmother. It’s shaky and static in sound, and frantic, like she was struggling to figure out the technology, but still filled with an endearing appreciation for the receiver. 

It reminded me of my own grandparents, most of whom aren’t here anymore. That feeling transuded through my being. Like the spilled orange soda soaking through the dry weathered wood of the decades old playset. Or the dimming and brightening clouded sun simmering through the cheap lattice weaved curtains. There, I cried. I cried happy tears, that curved around a warbling, radiating smile. I sat up looking around the small park, and all the people that passed by it. A dog came up and licked my palm, and I melted into more gleeful tears. I was overwhelmed by joy, and I felt so wildly loved. 

In that moment, listening to “mount moon” and all the context provided from listening to the rest of the album, it gave me a realization that led to such a positive visceral reaction. I saw that even with all the people who aren’t there anymore, even if they are gone, there was still so much love. It’s still somber, and it won’t make every loss feel right immediately, but it brings clarity. Even if in death their physical presence isn’t here anymore to show that, all those past indications are still there. All that adoration and caring is still there. It takes the form of memories that can be cherished and relived, but it also remains in me. The love that those people showed me in the past still defines who I am as a person in the present, and I carry that on as I live out daily life.  

Image via bedbug

“It’s what it’s trying to capture. I try my best to see that there is a lot of beauty in the world that is good. I also think that some of it is stuff that exists in our own past, and that can feel kinda complicated. It’s cause you have this beautiful moment growing up, and now that is no longer with you. But it is still. It can feel like a lot,” Dylan had said on this notion. The halcyon moments that are remembered so fondly don’t just end as soon as a person moves out of that singular point in time. Instead, they carry on forever into the long-lasting future, suspended in the fluid of time that defines the world around us.  

They’re like snapshots of moments that live in different astral planes of existence, ruminating through things like the cracks in drywall, the ridges of stone, the shine through a car’s windshield, or the gaps between roots and leaves. Sending through warm reverberations, it shows that the past and its influence will last for the rest of time. Those people and moments will always be there, like spirits lingering, haunting them in the most loving way possible. They’re there as something to hold onto and melt over. 

Dylan purposefully tried to pack as much nostalgic imagery into the record as they could. Things like catching fishes and running barefoot in the rain mentioned on “leave your things, the stars are returning”, or staring at streetlights while wandering around at night on “pack your bags, it’s time to go home” among many other small, detailed moments on the album make it so it can conjure up these aspects of the past for anybody.  

“love & everything after” music video. Animated by Dylan Gamez Citron

Despite being a smaller artist, having around 10,000 monthly listeners on streaming platforms, this aspect of evoking blissful memories is what has connected with so many people. It has established a strong, faithful following around bedbug. Tyler Odom, who’s behind the bedroom screamo band Your Arms Are My Cocoon, has expressed an absolute admiration for bedbug, citing them as their favorite artist ever. Dylan has also brought up the many times they’ve had interactions with fans over email or on social media who gave gleaming accounts of how much they loved their music, and what it had meant to them. Those few people who have listened really care and have found an attachment. 

“The people that like it, like it so much more than I was expecting them to. They really love it, which I appreciate,” Dylan said on the reactions to bedbug that they have gotten. “Right now, where it’s at, not a ton of people are listening, but the few that do are really invested. I’m pretty grateful for the people that are following me.” They also added that inspiring all these people seems weird. They feel like that the band is way too small to have that kind of impact on people, but through all the messages, they know that impact is there.  

With this, the songs on pack your bags the sun is growing and Dylan’s voice that occupies them has become its own entity that lingers and stays with a person. During and after listening, all the sensibilities interlaced in the album weave themselves between the essence of the listener. They carry the songs with them as they live out the rest of their lives, being able to reflect on the tones and rhythms whenever. These melodies are granted immortality, residing in the core of the people who they have graced. pack your bags displays that the joyous aspects of past nostalgia will always be there for us in some spectral form.