LEAN YEAR

SIDES (WESTERN VINYL)

LEAN YEAR - SIDES 153295
Format:
1 CD
Release:
09.09.2022
Label:
WESTERN VINYL
Kat.-Nr.:
153295
Barcode:
0843563149768
There is a moment on Sides, the new album from Richmond, Virginia-based duo Lean Year, in which a hospital room floor is filled with white chrysanthemums.

This imagery, based on an opiate-induced hallucination experienced by vocalist Emilie Rex's mother as she recovered from surgery, is a perfect encapsulation of the band's second album: dreamlike and beautiful, yet burdened with cold, stark reality.

Sides is a harrowing journey through realms of grief and memory, a meditation woven into a tapestry of synth pads, woodwinds, and Rex's instantly recognizable voice.

The duo of Rex and Rick Alverson - who also works as a film director (The Mountain, Entertainment, The Comedy) - originally set out to write an album about conflict, but during the writing and recording process, they were confronted with a number of personal tragedies.

Alverson lost both of his parents in rapid succession, Rex's mother received a cancer diagnosis, and the couple's beloved family dog, Orca, died.

These events transformed the album into an exploration of loss - an attempt at processing the painful, complex, and private emotions that bubble to the surface when confronted with death.

"We thought we'd do a concept album called Sides where we could reflect on all of the division in the world, and some in our own families, but then COVID transformed everything / everyone, and we suffered our own specific losses.

The record became about loss and grief," Rex explains. "In this way, the title Sides was still appropriate: our individual grief and collective grief, the margins of before and after, the act and feeling of during and enduring.

It felt like straddling a threshold between two opposing sides - the moment before conflict and the moment after it passes, life and death, the act of living and the memory of the act.

Grief feels like a contention between what you knew and what you now know, and often both feel real and unreal at once." Sides - produced by Alverson alongside Erik Hall (In Tall Buildings) and featuring contributions from Elliot Bergman (Nomo, Wild Belle) and Joseph Shabason (Destroyer, The War on Drugs) - as a distinctly cinematic quality, perhaps due in part to Alverson's other career.

Moments of jazz, slowcore, and dirgelike R&B find their way into the sorrowful, ambient suite, lulling the listener into a state of calm while the lyrics speak of ghosts, childhood, and mortality.

Despite the gravity of the subject matter, Sides succeeds in mastering a balancing act between pathos and pop.

Each song is indelible and haunting, with melodies that have the kind of broad appeal reminiscent of Karen Dalton, Aldous Harding, and FKA twigs.
 
  • Tracklisting
  • 1.1. LEGS
  • 1.2. NITETIME
  • 1.3. END
  • 1.4. TROUBLE WITH BEING WARM
  • 1.5. PANES
  • 1.6. BEND
  • 1.7. BAD WOMAN
  • 1.8. MARRIAGE OF HEAVEN AND HELL
  • 1.9. HOME