The holiday season is not always cheery. In fact, it’s often streaked with pain, loneliness, and melancholia. Out of Missoula, Montana, synth-pop duo Misty Mtn arrest the senses with all of the above on their Christmas-tinged new song. “These Lights” rings with the sharp realization that childhood has long faded, utilizing such deep ache to relay a universal life lesson.
When her parents decided to sell their childhood home, singer-songwriter Mo Trunzo, alongside bandmate Lucas Segall, moved back at the start of the pandemic to attend to things. “I was able to help them pack up and say goodbye to my childhood room and all the memories I made in that house,” Trunzo tells American Songwriter over email.
Segall and Trunzo began discussing the emotional and physical disconnect this endless year has wrought and how “so many people won’t be able to say all different kinds of goodbyes,” she continues. That conversation “sparked this imagery of going back to a place after it is no longer yours ─ or seeing a person who is no longer yours ─ and the internal experience that goes along with that.”
“These lights, these lights / Got me so depressed,” Trunzo mourns the passing of time and youth with the hook. “‘Cause this ain’t my house / And I had to trespass / Merry Christmas…”
“These Lights,” recorded in their home studio, borrows “a few sounds we collected out in nature” and bounds away from simply existing as a Christmas song. Its wistfulness echos across every person’s life; there always comes a time when one realizes that things never stay the same. Life is always moving.
“It’s okay to think that you’re fine or over something (or someone) and then suddenly realize you’re not,” Trunzo offers. “Sometimes crying and dancing in the pain is the best medicine. Also, the holidays don’t always have to be happy; a lot of the time they’re super melancholy, and that’s totally okay. We hope that our fans can appreciate [our] take on a holiday song. We wanted it to feel like something that you could listen to all year round but also something seasonal that our fans could grasp onto.”
The accompanying visual, shot near Oregon Park, feels both simple and grandiose, as a mountain range towers in the distance. Such a framework makes the song feel even more lonesome and heavy. “You found me at my lowest / Feeling homesick on your lawn,” cries Trunzo on the second stanza. “Just like my soul is / I came and broke it; I was calm.”
Misty Mtn first arrived with 2017’s “Greener,” slowly building into their 2019 debut EP, Missed Your Call. While sticking to a particular style of indie-pop, “These Lights” signals a shift in aesthetic and approach ─ continuing to be influenced by artists like Kacey Musgraves, Miley Cyrus, Eurythmics, Fleetwood Mac, and Frank Ocean.
With Missoula their creative sandbox these days, the duo often begin their days making coffee, pouring it into their favorite thermoses, and going for a nature walk. “That allows us to talk through our ideas, feelings, or concepts we want to write about without the pressure of immediately sitting down in the morning and banging it out,” Trunzo reflects.
“These Lights” samples a new record, tentatively expected in 2021.
Photo by Kelsey Talton