Stolen Jars Walk Us Through I Won’t Let Me Down Track By TrackPhotos by Tonje Thilesen Music Features Stolen Jars
2019 was the last time that Brooklyn indie band Stolen Jars have put out a full-length project, but those four years have been well worth the wait. Before even announcing their new album I Won’t Let Me Down, they teased three singles and started drumming up hype around what was to come. “Adeline,” “Somewhere Else” and “Won’t Stay Gone Forever” were never going to be one-offs, and, since then, “Reality TV,” “Run It Wild” and “Smoke In The House” have followed. With six of the album’s nine tracks out in the world, I Won’t Let Me Down is unavoidable and Stolen Jars’ finest work yet—and thank goodness for that.
I Won’t Let Me Down was mixed and co-produced by Hop Along’s Joe Reinhart, and the album features a guest appearance from Frankie Cosmos’ Greta Kline. It’s a great assemblage of power- and synth-pop, worthy of many replays because of the drum rolls, glitzy riffs and brilliant hooks alone. Stolen Jars’ co-bandleader Cody Fitzgerald sat down with Paste to discuss the inspiration behind every track he, Sarah Coffey and Elias Spector-Zabusky made together on I Won’t Let Me Down.
This is a song about the space between—when you know you have fallen in love, but are too afraid to admit it to yourself, too afraid of getting hurt. Instead you mindlessly watch Love Island to distract yourself from your feelings. Sarah [Coffey], Elias [Spector-Zabusky] and I wrote it about a moment when me and my partner were already spending most of our time together, living in each others’ apartments, spending days next to each other on the couch. We became each other’s worlds and eventually, I was strong enough to admit it.
“Adeline” was written as a letter to a long-lost friend—someone you wish you still had in your life, but grew apart from before you could fix things. Sarah’s lyrics tell the story of becoming a little older, wishing she could tell that person about each day, and hoping that when she someday meets that former friend again, they won’t have changed into someone unrecognizable.
This one started to come together when we were in the middle of a tour. Initially I just had the chord progression and the words “I don’t see myself in Austin”—words that went straight to the core of how exhausted and out-of-place I was feeling that day in that city, and in the music industry as a whole. I imagined what it would be like if I left everything and drove straight home right then and there, to the place where I belonged. We built this song around that feeling.
“Won’t Stay Gone Forever”
This is our love letter to New York. We wrote it at the height of the pandemic, when the fire escape was the only outdoor space we had and every day was spent in the same room. We had just come home from a full US tour a few months ago, and suddenly it felt like New York had disappeared. For me, this city is indelibly associated with my grandparents, with my memories of walking with my grandfather through Riverside Park and him holding me up by the window singing Christmas songs to me. We wrote this as a reminder that the city we love and the people we love will always come back to us, even after they are gone.
When we were all isolated in our rooms at the start of the pandemic, we wanted to write a dance song we could shout along to. This is what came of that, and it still feels good to scream it now. It’s a song about feeling stuck in one place, both physically and mentally, and trying to find your way out by dancing and screaming at the top of your lungs – even if you are alone and your friends are far away in their own apartments, only connected to you by the glow of a computer screen.
“In The Bad Times”
It’s when things are at their worst that we find out who our friends really are and who isn’t worth keeping around. This is a song we wrote for the people in our lives we can always rely on.
Sometimes we need to escape from our daily lives to realize that things have already started to fall apart. This is a song about finding the space to say what needs to be said, even if it leads to the end of a relationship. The instrumental for this song is actually the oldest one on the album, I had most of it done and sitting in a folder on my computer for over a year. We kept going back to it and finally found the words it was waiting for.
“Smoke In The House”
When we were writing this song we wanted it to feel almost like two songs stuck together – section A, where you are still grieving the loss of a big love, leads to section B, where you have moved on and left the pain they caused you behind. You have changed for the better, and they were wrong to never get the chance to see who you would become. This song came together almost effortlessly—Elias and I were working off of an initial guitar riff I had (the first riff in the song) and came up with the other two sections within a couple of hours. We sent it to Sarah and she sent back the majority of the vocal melodies and lyrics the next day. It was a true and heartfelt collaboration.
“Run It Wild”
This was the last song on the record that we finished. We built the song around this cut-up hocketed riff, a collection of different instruments (synths, keyboards, guitars) that make one melody. The instrumental had been sitting around on my hard drive fully completed, except for the fact that I was singing the melody in gibberish on top of it. I asked my friend Greta [Kline] (of Frankie Cosmos) to help us out with the lyrics and she came back to me with a million ideas. Once we found the words “Run It Wild,” the song finally made sense. Everyone keeps moving to LA from NY, so this is our anthem about building a life where we are, about finding a sense of self and purpose in the people around us instead of worrying about the expectations of the outside world. Run it wild…
Watch Stolen Jars’ 2017 Paste studio session here.