In The Normal Living’s latest single “How It All Went Down” sounds as if it was inspired from multiple artists, areas, and genres. There’s a pop-punk sound to the rhythm section – the drums appear to reflect the sound heard on Paramore’s 2009 album, Brand New Eyes. The guitar blends a nice pop and rock feel of The Veronicas circa 2003 while the lead vocalist’s intonation suggests a hint of country inspiration.
A favorite moment of the track occurs when the majority of the instrumentation drops out and a piano melody similar to Marc Cohen’s “Walking in Memphis” cuts through and transforms the rock track to something much softer, but just for a brief period. The drums come back in at the perfect time and the track proceeds to groove.
“How It All Went Down” tells the story of a family from the perspective of a mother. The family has faced a devastating loss, but they have repressed most of the grief and emotional trauma, afraid to open the floodgates of that grief. Much like a haunted house story, the song explores what happens when families, or communities, repress the emotions that come with tragedy and loss. The “shadow on the wall in the room of ghosts” that opens the song is the specter of that loss, an invisible presence that haunts the family even during the most mundane moments. Each member of the family thinks back about how this unbelievable tragedy could have come to pass, maybe looking for something to blame or blaming themselves. But the song is about how they can’t process such a heavy burden on their own. They never share or express their devastation with each other; instead, they live inside their own hells, imagining the wounds of what happened on that tragic night, trapped in a waking nightmare.
The variety of diction applied by the vocalist to the repeating line “remember how it all went down” in the pre-chorus allows it to still remain fresh in the listeners ear, since each time it is repeated it is just a bit different than the last time. Lines that repeat risk losing the listeners attention if too closely replicated for too long, but that is far from the case here. This is a very successful and exciting moment in the track.