As I ponder, just how to start this review, a phrase keeps playing in my head: Thank goodness for record stores. Let me explain…
Back in 2014, I was perusing my local Newbury comics, and my guy, the 20-something in touch with all things “new” in the rock world, suggested a title from a band with the conspicuous name, Nothing. The record, Guilty of Everything (which, OMG SPOILER ALERT, ended up being my top album of 2014) was a throwback of sorts to a bygone era (I make it sound Mesozoic...in fact, more like the early 90s) where bands of a certain sound, picked up the moniker of “shoegaze”, as they had a stage presence in that they could tell you what sneakers they were wearing at ANY point in a performance. I love bands of this ilk, going back to Ride, Catherine Wheel, Pale Saints et al. Over the course of a few months, I listened to that debut LP time and time again, delighting in the nuance, swirling in the melodies. And as often happens, my love for one record, became my undying thirst for the next. Patiently, I waited, until in January of 2016, this video crossed my twitter feed.
A grand total of 55 seconds of music, a scant minute of wall to wall sound, and I was as ready as I could be for the May 13th release date…
…or so I thought.
There was no way I could have ever been ready for this. The record, Tired of Tomorrow, opens with the sublime “Fever Queen” (the same riff as heard in the teaser trailer above), a 3 minute explosion of sound that sets the absolute perfect tone for the listener to be taken on a ride. The guitars, enhanced and enabled by pedals of tone, emanate from speakers as if waves hitting the shore. Not to be outdone, the tight rhythm section holds the bottom (and beat) soundly. And then you hear the voice…or two. Founding member Nicky Palermo and Brandon Setta do more than perform the vocals, they own them. Where most duets have harmonies that complement, Palermo and Setta’s voices ENVELOP each other’s, whether at a whisper, or in dual, full voice. (This is a standard trope of sorts for bands of the 90s movement, such as Mark Gardner / Andy Bell in Ride….but never like this) The record continues with the ballad-of-sorts “The Dead are Dumb” (a fantastic song as well) and then a CRAZY thing happens as the needle moves inward more…the record veers off its previous “shoegaze” path, and takes a perfect turn to a different, more mid-90s (think Pumpkins) sound. “Vertigo Flowers”, the first single released from the album, still has the big guitars, the pounding drums, the harmonized goodness, but takes the shape of a more “traditional” rock song. And the elements, all mixed together and awash with color, come to fruition with staggering aplomb. (the song itself has a 90degree “turn” in it as well, another one of my favorite nuances in song) Another standout, “A.C.D.” continues the onslaught, as now the record transforms from a “what did I JUST hear?” to “what is NEXT??” situation. At this point, it’s apparent that on-the-rise super-producer, Will Yip, and band have put a lot of attention to detail in the tracking of the album, as (while not a concept record by any stretch) Side 1 unfolds as one big story, each song a wonderfully spun chapter. “Eaten By Worms” opens the second half, and it’s another assault on the ears, in the most pleasant way possible, transitioning from heavy guitar seamlessly to piano notes, all without skipping a beat. The record closes with a three song run that could fit on any rock album, of any genre, from the past 30 years. Showing the more “gentle” side as previously seen on their EP Downward Years to Come , yet nonetheless, as powerful as the seven tracks that proceeded them. The title track brings down the curtain, with, again, another zig to the previous zags. “Tired of Tomorrow” is a piano ballad (with strings) in the truest sense of the word. And in a(nother) word, it is magnificent. (here’s more words to describe it….haunting, stoic, stunning, etc…etc…) Throughout the record, the words may be sparse, but are steeped in depth. The pain of despair a theme throughout, yet the incredible melodies, musicianship, and vocals leave the listener with the feeling of hope more than any other.
Rating: 9.5 / 10 (an absolute “run-don’t-walk” situation) This is a record that defies labeling...it is NOT a shoegaze record, it is not post-punk, it is not "indie"...it's just masterful
Favorite Tracks: All of them. Seriously. (but start with A.C.D and Fever Queen)
Side note: The making of the record has been documented in a 6 part YouTube series produced by the label, Relapse Records. It is a fascinating tale to be told. There is a LOT of history in this still-young band, and a TON of destiny in front of it.
Thanks for the read!
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