Alt Rock Anthem: "Do Not Wait" (2019) by Wallows | Lyrics Meaning and Analysis
Often labeled a masterpiece by their fans, “Do Not Wait”, the closing track of Wallows’s debut album “Nothing Happens”, does an excellent job in delivering what feels like an ode to teenage mentality. Either as a reminder that life gets better, or an emotion-packed reminder of what teens nowadays feel like, Do Not Wait is a powerful fan-favorite with potent, often poignant lyrics.
“You will say you're dreaming up a way
You're dreaming up a way to explode
There's a time you'll seek out a disguise
When you think people hate you the most
And it gets worse before it gets better
That's one thing that I have come to know
Just so you know”
The song starts off with the first verse; simple synth notes over Dylan Minette’s monologue on life. The first two lines express the exploding anxiety of the life of a teenager, and the next two emphasize how people put on a mask to fit in. The last few lines set the general idea for the whole song, that oftentimes things might feel like the end of the world and get very bad for teenagers, but it eventually gets better with a whole life ahead of them. The lyrics come as a compassionate advice, but do not invalidate the experiences of those who relate by not reducing their feelings to “basic teenage anxieties''.
More instrumental layers get added as we proceed with the chorus, that repeats “Do not wait” and “I’ll be there.” After a few iterations, the song moves on to the second verse.
“All the things you don't wanna let go
You wanna look back on in the cold
All the times that feel like everything
When nothing really happens at all
They're still here
All in that important room
You've got your pictures up on the wall
Up on the wall”
The memories that you’ve accumulated are still there, but in hindsight, none of the things that seemed like the end of the world were all that significant in the grand scheme of things is a prevalent message of this song that is also observed in this verse. A faint bass rhythm steadily becomes more prominent with the repetition of the chorus, and many rhythmic elements are added on top of each other to create a pensive yet calming effect. These layers slowly climax and abruptly stop at the acme, after which we hear the song evolve into a more conventional alt rock track. Organic-sounding acoustic guitars start to play the main melody and a chord progression, drums are layered on and an electric lead guitar gets introduced. The synth and atmospheric elements are still there, but the bridge is unlike anything the song has introduced so far.
Make a promise to your ex (Nothing happens)
He was terrified of sex (Nothing happens)
Most times, humiliating (Nothing happens)
Something you'll wanna forget (Nothing happens)
Your parents will eventually separate (Nothing happens)
Don't stop the trash bags in the pool (Nothing happens)
Oh, guess what? You have a sister now (Nothing happens)
And as you go on and shit gets hard, don't worry about me
We hear single lines from what’s almost an autobiographical story to Minette, always accompanied by back-vocals repeating the album title, “nothing happens”, indicating that the anxiety and the overwhelming thoughts that come with being a teen is actually very insignificant to later life and that all will be okay. Classic teenage problems of exploring sexuality, family issues etc. are given as examples. The guitar intensifies and the drums punctuate the lines with compressed fills and cymbal hits.
The outro repeats the chorus and a number of “Oh”s for about a minute. However, the lines “Your parents will end up where they belong”, “They’ll eventually talk again though” and “Guess what? She’s obsessed with you” establish a sense of resolution. This addition shows that things do get better no matter how bad it might seem. After that, the song comes to an end with the opening riff of “Only Friend”, the opener track of the album, making it a full cycle, if listened to back to back, which is again a nod to life.
Relatability, which is one of the strong suits of Nothing Happens, comes to life in Do Not Wait on a more personal level. Being one of the Wallows’ most emotionally packed songs, repetition and simplicity put the listener in a somewhat nostalgic state of mind, reminding them that nothing actually matters and all will be well even though it doesn’t seem so.