“We Will Become Silhouettes” presents an extreme contrast between lyrics and sound, reminiscent of Master Pangloss’ reality versus perspective from Voltaire’s Candide. Despite what appalling disasters befall him, even in the midst of an extreme earthquake, Pangloss stubbornly holds true to his view that “all is for the best in the world.” The events being described in this song are likewise horrific, to say the least: “Because the air outside will make our cells/Divide at an alarming rate until our shells/Simply cannot hold all our insides in/And that’s when we’ll explode…And it won’t be a pretty sight.” The music video depicts what appears to be a post-apocalyptic scene, with a band member uncontrollably giggling as he rides his bike through a large tumbleweed in what used to be a busy street, a contrasting attitude to an ominous picture. I related to the song by connecting it to modern times, particularly the line “But all the news reports recommend that I stay indoors,” satirizing the news we are constantly hearing of damaging sun rays, borderline poisonous food, storms, terrorist threats, and even the end of the world.
Yet The Postal Service’s frontman Ben Gibbard takes on a matter-of-fact and cheery tone while describing the dystopian chaos surrounding him consisting of empty streets, deceased friends, and a very lonely time spent in a fallout shelter. With an almost ridiculous sense of optimism, vocalist Jenny Lewis happily bobs her head to the catchy beat, idly singing “Ba…ba…ba…ba.” (Meanwhile, the “ba’s” likely refer to the sound our bodies make when they “finally go.”) Even the children in the video are excitedly bobbing and tapping their feet to the upbeat tune as they prepare for a bike ride through a bleak landscape and an equally unappealing picnic of preserved food. Though there seems to be some sort of presence of imminent death due to the fact that the world fell apart, the incongruous bubbly attitude taken here almost seems to overshadow that destruction. Though it may be extreme and out of touch with reality, how else does one survive in such a tumultuous place? Even in the midst of destruction, life goes on. Dystopia is what you make of it, a hopeful message for us today in a world full of global warming and nuclear bombs. Maybe it will somehow all work out.