Embodiment is the strongest form of understanding one can have without the actual experience. To get there is a journey. An undesirable force you fall victim to and for this, my stomach aches with hunger for harmony in a disappointed balance, bitterness based in disgust, bathed in a sea of yellow and tarnished in rust. Burnt Books self-titled debut, through At A Loss Recordings early this year spoke to me through experiences I’ve never had and have been forced to feel, whether I liked it or not. A power that’s hard to argue with.
The album starts off with the weakest link ‘Selfish Friend’ but before you get all nostalgic and think “You are the weakest link. Goodbye.” Just hear them out for a second. The lament in her vocal swells with too little fucks given when Zoë sang “It’s so hard to pretend that you meant nothing in the end.” Switching up the riff at the end was tasteful and innovative; a curve ball for the attention deficit in us all, not like the rest of the album should be an issue.
On the second track, ‘Empty Eyes’, chanting chorus twice repeatedly in the beginning was a gutsy move but one that paid off for them, separated by quirky leads and fat bass notes that scale up and down, stumbling around like a drunken punk after too much whiskey. Zoë Lollis coos “Are you really fucking free?,” a sound as if her vocals were left to cascade over a roller-coaster’s peak; hands raised to the wind an flailing without restriction.
In ‘Dig A Little Deeper’, the chorus calms in blunt and frustrated retort, infusing no-wave into their hardcore algorithms, for a continual slew of curious notes, peeping in and out of shadowed holes for unanticipated ear time.
Planting folk punk into this lost and found bin of musical oddity, ‘Materialist Conspiracy Theorist’ and ‘Liar’ strip off the bands edge and lay down the bare bones guitar and vocals. Is the odd case, screaming vocals are the only thing a vocalist can pull off and anything virtually close to a capella would be out of the question. After this track, I’m convinced this woman could pull off any style with her beautiful tone, emotion and voice filled with character, the likes of Martha Wainwright and Erin Saoirse Adair.
‘Abandoned’, ‘Unforgiven’, ‘Pretty Daughters’, can someone say major family issues? This whole album is steaming with them, almost to the point where I’m uncomfortable through emotional embodiment. I was fortunate enough to have a pretty stable home life but listening to this album, I almost forget it.
Burnt Books recently released a music video for ‘In A Shallow Grave’, my favorite track of the album; an uneventful but crisp black and white garage performance. I feel like so much more could have been done with the visuals but for capturing the bands dynamic, you can’t argue with its accuracy. It starts out with the haunting flow of ghostly vocals weaving through corridors, a killer bass line, so fitting of the mood and drums that could have used a bit of simplification for the intro but don’t detract much from the overall feel. Building and you up and crushing you back down into claustrophobic quarters, “I’m through missing you. You’re not the person I used to love.” flows so perfectly; a phase so honest and cold that one can relate in an instant. Guitar fades away as the perfect epilogue.
This is honestly one of the best albums I’m heard in a long time. It’s fair enough to say you like an album when it’s from a band you already love but with up and coming bands, it’s all too easy for me most times to listen to an album and then forget. Burnt Books however are something else. A something I love, love, love! A love I want to share with everyone, smearing it over the earth like a delicious raspberry jam. If you dig it, spread the love.