“In A Year With 13 Moons”
Sean Stewart was a person burdened with excessively great existential anxiety – a charge which some listeners, but not us, would level at the entire album. HTRK not only illustrate but incorporate, and feel profoundly, its themes (like other HTRK albums) of alienation – from both oneself and contemporary society, of the desperate search for identity and love, the dangers of emotional dependency, of exploitation and how victims are sometimes complicit in their own victimization. Yet there is also an energy, strength and unique beauty in the album. All of those factors, together, ultimately seal a fate which is both pathetic and tragic.
We can see that Stewart's suicide has actually helped galvanize the people around him, and there's a suggestion that it could – just possibly – lead to some of them becoming more of what they want to be. Stewart is the embodiment of their – and our – common humanity. He is us at our most confused, lost, vulnerable; and that allows HTRK to show both their deep compassion for his plight and to use him, critically, as an object lesson in the dangers of remaining in that state. Yet by the end he moves from a figure of pathos to one of tragic stature. He embodies the tragedy of what befalls one who does not know themselves – and that, of course, is the defining essence of all tragic art, from the ancient Greeks to Shakespeare and Goethe to today. But that failure of self-understanding is, paradoxically, also the essence of comedy. HTRK's vision is expansive enough here to encompass the full tragicomic nature of Stewart's life and its broader implications. They show us the vast, interconnected range of what is necessary for full understanding, drawing a vector from the personal to the sociopolitical – and back again.
HTRK's respect for Stewart – in spite of his self-defeat – suggests that they believed he had the potential, both emotional and intellectual, to understand himself, to integrate himself into wholeness: that's the pathos of his character. His tragedy is that he did not. His demons kept him from finding his true self, doomed him. Part of HTRK's aim is to show the psychological dimension leading to that failure, rather than treating Stewart solely as some philosophical mouthpiece or symbol. The fullness of our understanding of him is why this album, so filled to bursting with pain, ultimately is not depressing but deeply moving, even exhilarating, as a work of art.
Text appropriated from here.