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Philadelphia- and Brooklyn-based trio Personal Trainer have shared their debut single “Backyard,” out now on House of Feelings. The band—made up of Molly Buckley (guitar, vocals), Melina Harris (guitar, vocals) and Alix Masters (bass, vocals)—first met at Vassar College, where they found kinship in their love of Alanis Morissette.
“Backyard” is a gorgeous, moving introduction to Personal Trainer. If there’s one sentiment that indie-rock songs capture better than almost any other genre, it’s regretful longing. Against humble guitar plucks, “Backyard” mourns those moments where we succumb to our own hesitancies, potentially leaving watershed romantic interactions on the table. Their hushed vocal coos read like that inner monologue that we’re too afraid to share, but when their shared vocals reach stirring pop heights, it feels like that swell of self-assurance they were waiting for (“I’m the star of my own freak show / I kind of like it though”). Whether you’re a teenager relating to this in your bedroom, still feeling paralyzed, or a twentysomething who’s finally ready to say “fuck it,” this song will inch you closer to the edge of the diving board.
The band wrote of the song:
I suppose it went something like this … I’m in a basement in South Philly and it’s New Year’s Eve, right, and for some reason we’re swapping stories about the first time we got high. My ears perk up like they always do when she speaks. She takes us back to the summer of 2004 when the popular girl asked her over for a sleepover. She was approached after most had fallen asleep. Did she want to come out into the backyard with the others? Inside popular-girl’s-dad’s toolshed, somewhere in South Jersey, she inhales for the first time, and they let her know that it’s going to be okay. “Your ex was a bitch, anyway.” She sits there astonished as smokey relief washes over her. She was one of the only out girls in her grade. Her eyes quiver now as she remembers this single kindness of the straight popular girl, and the profundity of 16-year-old heartbreak. I want to reach out and kiss her cheek. She looks up and smiles at me and, like a riffle of cards, they all begin catapulting through my memory. All the girls I never got to love, to sneak out to a toolshed with, to kiss on a blanket, to hold hands with on the 4th of July. How many chances did we miss to truly love those whom we admired? How many times did we hurt someone because we were too scared to tell the truth? ‘Backyard’ is for anyone who cares to reimagine what their childhood may have looked like had they been unafraid to love honestly. And for all of us who are still figuring out who we love and how to love them without fear, without compromise.
Listen to “Backyard” below.