In these interesting times, when even in the midst of doing something pleasurable, the siren call of the fall of western empire overwhelms and darkly enchants, it can be a little tricky to focus.
Music could go either way, like history. Either one could take refuge in slickly produced examples of the corporate machine drooling out the blood-tinged saliva produced by the bands they have chewed through, wiping their mouths on the money as it’s printed.
Or one could look doubtfully at anything new, pressing play with a certain trepidation. Another mean girls grab at the golden ring? Another ill-thought out idea, running toward the desperation of repetition? That’s always a danger for creating anything. Give them what they want, chase down an idea, repeat something someone’s always liked.
Then there’s always the hope that these difficult times, filled with coercion and false consciousness and consensus might lead to some renewal of energy.
So it’s pleasant when you press that fallen-over triangle and sense someone is trying, exploring. With energy.
A few weeks ago,
I was a sent a link to Reunionunion and their Bandcamp page.
Perfect? What’s that? Let’s not be disappointing like the left, tearing ourselves apart because everything isn’t just so. Especially as perfect these days frequently means “threw money at it, lots”.
So Reunionunion and their new album, Perspective, is filled with wonderful sounds. Like someone actually listened to the noises they were emitting before they pressed the record button. It’s a bit shoegaze-y, but really not as stoned. “Rock alternative goth indie new shoe gaze” says the page. Two guys – Patrick Savage and Adam Watkins. Two. Sounds like more. Ironically, could it use a bit more production here and there? Yes, possibly. But they have built something that is atmospheric and dreamy, and the best songs just feel so good, like a weird little book you found on the last shelf in an empty library. And it’s all filled with this driving energy, even in the more delicate songs.
The intro song, “Alright”, is the perfect mix of onslaught and tenderness. Just when you’re breathless, the chorus is there. “Nothing comes without a fight.” A rubber band guitar pummels you, just to drop you into something softer, just in time to have the drums remind you that the work isn’t done. Not yet.
“Photosynthesis” has that same push pull guitar. Nearly funk, the wah of the guitar sets up the frame for lyrics that remind you of all the reasons you need to turn up the volume that loud. That voice, wanting hoping. Cheerful melancholy. The soundtrack for these times. Why someone hasn’t snapped it up yet to use as a backdrop for visual media of any kind is a mystery. It belongs in someone’s angst filled road movie. Wherever the road is. Bedford Avenue or Route 1 or the A10 or el Camino de Santiago. Doesn’t matter.
“Visulat” is one of those songs that makes you look up to see what the title is. That guitar in the middle – ripping into you, to heal, to hear again and again. Nearly Nordic vocals. Distant, cold, while they reach out for you. The drummer on the verge of a second behind. That near syncopation that pushes you forward. Did I just press play again? So I did. Dream pop to play while the needles of everyday life, or your new tattoo, press into you. This guitar sound. The way it goes from taut to punishingly full…is pleasant.
“Need” is another surprising song. Usually everyone saves their best three songs for the beginning. So it’s always a pleasure when the rest of the album is good as well. The stately progression, with a bit of that sudden fast drumming. But those indie vocals. You don’t want me to change, you say? I don’t believe you. But I’m listening to the echoing bombast, so I don’t care. The sixties still distilled.
“Rinse” is more feel good to begin with. There’s so much energy here. The guitars work together with the drums. The chorus lets them down a bit, reaching for the anthemic. But that middle bit. Anyone could sway very happily to that, pint in hand, space pop enough for any Brooklyn night. Play live please. Union Pool. I prefer Shea Stadium. Anywhere.
“Apart” is like exploring genres. I wish they’d put up the guitar more than the drums, but hey. They’re a band that clearly listen to each other. A bit punky, oddly enough. That guitar, again, like a rolling, growling wave sweeping over anything in its way.
Then there is “Turner”, which reminds of a Kate Bush song. The bass opening up the universe. A little jazzy guitar motif. Not so much the bar band of last few songs, but more of a poetic thrust with that steady beat in the background. That guitar in the middle is really nice. More of that please. Delicate, slippery, and just good.
And then the last song. Everyone always ends with a statement piece. Well, wouldn’t you? “Times like this/nothing fits”. “Diseperate.” Neruda said that poets should work up to political poetry, as those poems were so difficult to pull off. True. But the attempt these days is worth a lot. There’s passion here as the rhythm guitar pulls us through, while life swirls around. Fade out.
Atmosphere, well-constructed sounds, a solid backing, and a bit of experimentation. From beginning to end, moments of power and design to induce thought and movement.