Stuck on Repeat: And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead “Baudelaire”

Stuck on Repeat

Sometimes a song from Austin’s past won’t get out of our heads and we’re forced to share it with you so it will get stuck in yours too, like a music nerd version of It Follows. Today we look back at And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead’s “Baudelaire,” one of the most exciting moments on their breakthrough album Source Tags and Codes.

A big drum beat and a big dumb guitar riff can make everything so much better. Simple ingredients, sounds you’ve encountered a million times, somehow still appealing when done right, somehow still irresistible in the right hands. And Source Tags and Codes era Trail of Dead are about as right of hands as there can be, particularly when we’re talking about “Baudelaire,” a see-saw anthem against boredom, teetering back and forth between octave slides and gloriously stacked chug-chug-chug rhythms.

“Baudelaire” is a song that climbs and climbs and climbs, a trait that makes it phenomenally easy to leave on repeat, letting it do a cycle of ebbs and flows for all time, or at least until you’re too amped up to stay next to your speakers any longer and explode out the door, eager to make good on the song’s demand to not be one of the boring ones. Trail of Dead got a lot of love for being atmospheric and grandiose but this is the incarnation of the band that always mattered most to me, the element of their sound I see in the projects they’ve aligned with outside the group, like BLXPLTN and their own mission against the boring ones. I appreciate the band’s prog punk epics and dips into mysticism but I’m a sucker for a hook and “Baudelaire” gives me more than a few to latch onto.


The first is that booming beat that opens the track, the kind of thing I can recognize in an instant. On a road trip down the California coast, this song came up on my friend’s shuffle and I blurted out “Baudelaire!” like I’d just seen a long lost relative. The rest of the car was confused by how I knew what the song was not even half a second in, but fuck, how could you not? Those drums begin epic, pounding at the door, imbued with an unusually melodic timbre on the snare, before the emphasis drops out and cymbals open and close around the vocals, returning to their insistent rhythm when the guitars do their catcall thing.

Those guitars keep it gloriously simple but they’re equally unforgettable, the leads written like they were meant for a horn section, brassy and demonstrative and eager to cut through the mix. But they know when to fall back to more rhythmic assertions, cutting that lead line swoop in order to pick up the insistence the drums have dropped. As the vocals become more anthemic, the guitars happily grow more rumbling, all coming together for a power pop finish, warning that we’ll all never see the light when the boredom comes.

The twist is that as long as “Baudelaire” plays, the boredom can’t possibly come, it’s too stalwart a force, sustained by infinite momentum and the joy of singing along as a group to a simple declaration. Simple in its emotion, “Baudelaire” is Trail of Dead at their most engaging, an unforgettable single from a band that otherwise didn’t really believe in such a thing.

Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at  Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover