Crying goes confessional pop on Beyond the Fleeting Gales.
Crying’s new full-length album is appropriate for 2016 in that it’s a massive self-aware self-contradiction. On Beyond The Fleeting Gales, the band maintains its characteristic combination of exuberant power pop riffs and flurrying chiptune but progresses somehow in both complexity and approachability. The album embraces squealing classic rock guitar solos and 80s-inspired arpeggios, while wrapping itself neatly in a cleaner and more complicated drum framework than ever before. It unfolds into a video-game odyssey, stunning in its thematic breadth and simultaneous musical cohesiveness. Opening track “Premonitory Dream” introduces the first recurring image in the album: that of a “lone bridge” over a body of water. Singer Elaiza Santos describes feeling apprehensive on the bridge, unsure whether to go forward or backward, before experiencing a moment of clarity in which they realize the worst decision is to remain stagnant. The bridge returns in track six, “A Sudden Gust,” when they're “driving on / In the car towards the reservoir,” (the car being another recurring device), and their “mind conjure[s] [it] up.”
Crying utilizes Bandcamp’s lyrics display option in a way that would make Car Seat Headrest's Will Toledo proud. The tangled narrative of BTFG is enjambed and punctuated like poetry, displayed to augment their listeners’ experience. A mid-song staccato break in “A Sudden Gust” reads: “Healing is a battle in between the approaches of obsessive / Preservation and the brittle separation from all pleasures doubling as / The source of our fear and pain so, sometimes, propelling through / These minor destructions kind of feels like /...a mistake.” The lyrical content of the album is dominated by existential musings like these, as well as boomeranging thematic imagery. There are recurring mentions of a bridge, a knife, a child, a dream, etc. that gel the songs, which could seem unrelated at first glance, as a sort of convoluted adventure. Themes don’t only crop up in the vocals; instrumental bits are cleverly recycled and distorted over the course of BTFG. For instance, an arpeggiated synth that begins the single “Patriot” is confounded, deepened, and reused to usher in the closing track, “The Curve.” The best part is that despite its intellectualisms and idiosyncrasies, Crying’s ten-song epic remains frighteningly catchy throughout. Melodic lines such as “If you want it / Girl go and get it” on “Wool in the Wash,” and the namedrop “heed the fleeting gales” on slow track “Children of the Wind” make Santos’ saccharine vocal stick in the head.
The album’s vibes are aggressively varied, from the post-rocky ambiance of “Well and Spring” to the spoken-word jaunt of “There Was a Door” to the sugar-rush “Revive” (are we listening to "Hot Blooded?" Oh, haha, never mind...); however, everything is well-executed. Each experiment has its purpose in the weave. In today’s alternative climate, female artists are regarded as anomalous when the words coming from their mouths are innovative or strange. The kind of skewed, symbolic, deeply personal narrative lyricism on Beyond The Fleeting Gales is, at least in smaller circles, reserved for male-fronted freak folk acts; the occasional emo band. Likewise, it’s uncommon to see pop albums that interlock and dialogue the way it does. The amazing thing about this record is how Crying clearly knows they’re doing something contradictory and new, but they still have such a good time—and give listeners such a good time. Everything about the album, from its scintillating story line to the glinting trebles in its synths and percussion, seems to wink at you.
Listen to Crying on bandcamp.
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Jess is a college student from Nashville living in NYC. She enjoys February, tape hiss, and peanut butter cups. Find her tweeting self-consciously here.