Review Summary: The most exciting new-old band of the year, Past Lives craft the best EP of the year with haunting, exciting songs and a sense of dread.
Formed in Seattle, Past Lives consists of a few members of a dead punk band that no one really cares about anymore. Jordan Blilie on microphones, Mark Gajadhar on the percussions, Devin Welch on the electric guitars, and the incorrigible Morgan Henderson on bass/keyboards/guitars/brilliance. A veritable supergroup of immense talent and musical alacrity, Past Lives suddenly released their debut EP Strange Symmetry
to unsuspecting fans August 4th digitally, with a physical release to follow later on November 4th. How does the EP stack in the end? Well, it’s the fi
Clocking in at a perfect 15 minutes, Strange Symmetry
is a haunting and musically exciting romp through a post-hardcore-infused post-punk, post-music (!) landscape. Each of the five songs here are entirely different beasts, ranging in measure from feedback filled and bass droning, to oddly paced experimental punk, to macabre rock n’ roll, to the spazzcore of the members past. They pack a full length albums worth of material into Strange Symmetry
, and it shows in the freshness of it all.
It starts as soon as the album begins, with the opener “Beyond Gone” starting with chimes and random guitar notes, as Jordan airily sings “Seconds swell swell swell to hours, and hours stack stack stack to days” as the rest of the band kicks in. The rest of the song adds in different elements to the sound without sacrificing the integrity of the track, as it builds into its final distortion filled climax. The title track “Strange Symmetry” takes the opposite route, throwing in your face a guitar riff that won’t leave your head for days. The song is a paradox in itself; it is immensely catchy and easy to listen to due to how alive the band sounds playing it, but there is a definite sense of danger and fright in the music. It’s as if the song could at any moment burst into flames, and from “Strange Symmetry” on that unhinged nature pervades the rest of the EP.
This is probably most due to Jordan Blilie’s strange development as a vocalist. Not blessed with a great voice, nor one that is easily bent to his will, Jordan has instead opted to use this to his advantage to create a haunting presence on the record. His voice sounds pained and forced, but not in the sense it is uneasy to listen to; it’s as if his voice is a monster needing to be restrained. His howls may be helped by tremendous production work, but the music’s darkness is undoubtedly a co-creation between Devin Welch and Morgan Henderson. While Welch provides distorted guitar lines and poppy riffs to give his input into the madness, Henderson’s electronic work on the album gives the music more of that deranged sound. The music can go from poppy goodness to a mess of guitar and synth fury in the matter of seconds, without ever lacking direction.
is an outstanding debut for these ‘youngsters’. They take influences from their past on “Skull Lender” to create a song their previous bands would have loved to pilfer. “Reverse the Curse” is one of the most chilling songs of the year, while closer “Chrome Life” succeeds with its groove-centric introduction that leads into the perfect overture of the album; a dark, exciting and surprising journey through Past Lives. It is an almost perfect EP, with absolutely no filler and giving just enough of a taste to leave listeners dying for what a full length album will sound like after even more preparation and tightening of the sound. However, there is one thing I must address…
The question that fans are surely wondering? Hell yes does it live up to The Blood Brothers and then some.
You can listen to the whole album here: http://www.myspace.com/pastlivesmusic