“Backwards” by Kings Kaleidoscope: a call to the disenchanted

So this is something that’s become something of a tradition upon the release of a new Kings Kaleidoscope album/EP. And at the time of writing, “Zeal” has been out for one day, i may do a full run-through of my thoughts on the album as a whole at a later date, (spoiler, it’s going to be very positive) but today, for the first time in a while, i’ve felt the call to write. In this post, i’m going to be going to be picking apart the lyrics of one of my favourite songs on this album, “backwards” and explaining why this song has spoken to me in the way it has. Obviously, you should probably listen to “Backwards” before continuing on with this post, so here’s the link just in case!  (“Backwards”) 

So the first verse begins with:

“Struck out on my quest
Turned around and took two steps, backwards
Heart out of my chest
Serving my emotion led, backwards”

This is an incredible start, we get straight into the feelings of failure and how this can be detrimental on our walk with Christ. It’s all too common to feel like we’re spiralling down when something that we’ve worked so hard on doesn’t come to fruition, or in other words, when we feel like we’ve missed the mark on our calling, it can seem like we’re taking two steps backwards, which can lead us into giving in to our feelings of inadequacy, which becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of loathing, we lose trust because we’re not growing, we no longer see the image of Christ in us, because we no longer trust, which is when we should be trusting the most, when we have nothing, this is when we need Christ the most.

The verse continues:

“Lucky, lucky me, I said
Bitter, never breaking bread, backwards
Seems I’ve failed this test
Living like I’m still not blessed, blessed”

This to me, is an expression of the cynicism that comes when we struggle to see God’s works in our lives, and as i’m struggling with this a lot in recent weeks, this really spoke to me. I’m living like i’m not blessed, despite the joy that is found in Christ, a joy i know to be true, and a joy that has more than sustained me. The feeling of not being blessed because we’re not receiving the same blessings as others in our lives, is all too common in Christian culture. The other part of this verse that i’d like to touch on is a running theme of this song, the line “never breaking bread” is a common sentiment in this wonderful song. And i can understand why.

One of the most common themes in Christianity is the importance of  breaking bread, whether that refers to the communion bread, that is Christ’s body, (Matthew 26:26) or breaking bread in the sense of making friends or forgiving our enemies, we need both to grow. We need to break bread with our enemies and forgive them in order to move on from our hurt. We need to break bread with our friends as man was not made to be alone, and we need to break bread that is the body of our mediator, as it helps us focus on him and what he has done for us. Without these things, we stay bitter, isolated and drift away from Christ.

Moving on to the first pre-chorus:

“I’m sick and tired of losing track
Keep stacking sticks to pave a path
So sick and tired of falling flat
So I’m trying tricks to face the fact”

This keeps with the running theme of this song, becoming jaded and lost, when everything seems to be falling apart we get more and more bitter, “why can’t my life be simple?” “why do i keep failing, no matter how hard i try?” sometimes we can try to trick ourselves and those around us that we’re okay, that nothing is wrong and things don’t need to change, but this is where we need to be honest with ourselves, in order to truly overcome our shortcomings.

“Guess I took the wrong way round
Shut the book and hit the ground
God, I took the long way down
Cut the hook and keep the crown”

I think this is a great summary of the feeling of hitting rock bottom, it, to me at least, feels like the last point before the fall, the moment before the collapse into anger and depression, not necessarily being angry with God, more with ourselves for not being what we think we should be. It’s almost like saying “Lord, i’ve let you down again, and i don’t want to keep wasting your time” Now we know that this isn’t how God sees us, we’re more than just an investment to him, but it can be difficult holding onto that when we fall back into the sin that we’ve been cleansed of.

Now onto the part of the song that inspired me to write about this one from all of the incredible songs that are found in “zeal”

“I’m sick and tired of church and chess
I take the wine and leave the bread
I’m jaded in the wilderness
And trying tricks to not confess”

I love this part so much, the imagery of comparing church to a game of chess is masterful, because of how true it can be. We protect our sin like a king, and when we’re checkmated and the facade falls to the side, we’re just left broken, like everyone else.
We can be a people of taking the wine and leaving the bread, meaning we accept what Jesus has done for us, (giving his blood to free us of our sins) without actually taking up our crosses and living how he did.
When we’re in the wilderness of life, it’s easy to get jaded, because it’s easier to be hopeless than to live with hope, but our calling isn’t to have easy lives, it’s to be a people of God’s grace in the times of hardship, and a light in the world when all the world wants is to be dark. But of course this is easier said than done. Which leads on nicely to the last line of the chorus, because we know what we should be, yet sometimes we will still try to trick those around us that we’re already there in terms of where God is calling us. Or that we try to hide our shortcomings, to portray the illusion that we’re above reproach, this is a dangerous mindset that usually leads to one of two things, either we become so consumed with this need to keep up this character, that we begin to believe it, or the pain of not being who we want to be will destroy us from the inside, both of these options lead to the same path, an even deeper separation from God.

Now as the song repeats lyrics after this bridge, this is the last part i’ll be focusing on:

“I don’t break bread I just regret instead
Struggle and sweat, shaking my head
Losing my steps like a bad bet, roulette
Holding my breath with the time left”

Once again the theme of “breaking bread” comes up, which we’ve gone over in greater detail earlier, but i like the addition of the regrets and the anxiety to really nail home the damage that this isolation from each other and God can do to a person.

So why have i called this post a “call to the disenchanted”?  The answer is simple really. Because it reminds those of us that have grown jaded that we’re not alone. We’re not the only ones that get beaten down by the storms of life, and this is one of the things that i love about Kings Kaleidoscope. They’re one of the few bands that reminds people like me that, as hard as life gets, and as distant from God as i may feel sometimes, i am not alone in this. It’s more common than i may think. But this is also why i want to say to anyone that’s made it this far, please listen to the whole of “Zeal” because it goes from this feeling of disconnection, and cynicism to a level of child like faith, that we’re called to have as people of the kingdom. This faith that our God has everything in hand, no matter how hard life is, a faith that isn’t shaken by those that would doubt his goodness. But just as importantly, the wonder that is found in God’s creation, and the genuine joy that’s found in a life with Him.

As jaded with life as i may feel at this moment, it’s actually songs like this that give me hope, that i’m not so alone in this after all. Now i’m aware of how cynical i actually am, it’s a case of applying this child like faith and trust in God that we’ve been talking about today. So thank you Kings Kaleidoscope, for being honest for those that feel unable, so that people like me may finally address this in ourselves.

If you haven’t listened to “Zeal” yet, you can find a link to the album on Spotify Here it’s well worth your time!

Thank you for reading and May God Bless you.

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