“When there’s nothing left to give, I’ll give you away” is a lyric from “Breakdown” that encapsulates Off Road Minivan’s May This Keep You Safe From Harm. Is this phrase pointed in spite, or is it in regretful melancholy? Their second full-length album, released today on June 23rd via Tooth & Nail Records, is a collection of stories from their lives, discussing feelings of regret, anger, spite, and acceptance.
“The Beacon” provides the first track about heartbreak. With lyrics such as “If we’re free to love, then why’d you cost so much?”, this song will have you ugly-crying in your car while singing along. “Karma” was also written in the same vein. Though kind of sweet at first, it later turns sour as the song progresses with a message that states “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out”. Tuck’s ability as a storyteller and as a vocalist shines on these tracks. Through his impressive range, he can convey emotions and have the listeners’ feelings in the palm of his hand.
“Pity Sex” and “Victim Complex” are two aggressive, scathing tracks, a contrast to the rest of the record. “Pity Sex” starts with the message, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself”. Then it only gets more cutting, describing a former friend who blames everyone but themselves. While “Victim Complex” is about a longtime friend who is their own worst enemy and the decision to cease being a part of their downward spiral.
Off Road Minivan takes the time to commemorate life and love and they execute beautifully. “Basement” is the first track to convey acceptance of loss. It is a bop of a track in celebration of member Evan Garcia Renart’s friend, Alex. “Cheerleader” is a rager of a track in memory of Tuck’s friend, Victoria McCarthy. Both songs are not melancholy, they celebrate the lives of people they hold dearest.
“Billy” is a heartwarming track, one that will make you tear up and reminisce about those whose love completely changed your world. It includes beautiful lyrics such as “You touched my body like an atom bomb” and “You melt my heart like you melt my skin”. It is on softer songs like this, that Tuck O’Leary’s powerful vocal performance shines the most. We get a fair amount of belting from him with his longtime project Fit For a King, but it is with Off Road Minivan that we discover his skill and variety of talents as a vocalist.
“It’s Nothing Personal” concludes this journey of an album. It is warm and inviting, offering an introspective bit of nostalgia. It does not feel like a sad song per se, just rather a track of acceptance and closure. “It never gets easier to let you go”. Sometimes closure can be heart-wrenching but it helps you move forward.
The album title May This Keep You From Harm describes how Tuck O’Leary’s family would give him keepsakes to keep him safe when he started touring. However, this also feels like a descriptor of what Tuck hopes to accomplish. Maybe he hopes by sharing his stories from his life the listener can learn from them or maybe feel less alone. I could relate to many of the stories shared and felt seen. Give this record a spin and I’m sure you too will feel seen for everything you’ve overcome.