Review Summary: A rough, poetic, and deeply beautiful burst of eclectic emo brilliance
Near the end of the eleventh and penultimate track on just got back from the discomfort--we’re alright
, all of the band’s (extensive) instrumentation cuts out, save for some accordion and acoustic guitar. In this calm, introspective, and somewhat climactic moment, a sample plays from Season 4, Episode 2 of Malcolm in the Middle.
In the sample, Dewey states “You hate everyone. To you everyone’s either a moron, or a creep, or a poser. Why do you suddenly care about their opinion of you?”
And Malcolm earnestly responds, “Because I’m shallow. I want them to like me.”
In text form, the sample likely sounds rather juvenile and uncool (and in reality, the latter is true to a certain extent), but it actually manages to perfectly encapsulate much of the conflict and distress present on The Brave Little Abacus
’s sophomore effort. It’s an album full of confusion, stress, denial, and the eponymous discomfort. And out of all of these bad feelings comes a thorough sense of rapturous joy.
However, the BLA could easily be a very annoying band solely because of their aesthetics. The main singer, Adam Demirjian, quickly shouts, yelps, and shrieks along to the band’s sonic fracas, managing to stay just in time with their oddly timed orchestrations, losing some words along the way. The recording is intricate but lo-fi, occasionally sounding a bit muddy or grating when the intensity is at its peak. It’s all very chaotic and can sometimes sound like an extremely well-performed demo, but the genuine, heartfelt nature of the music shines through any technical or aesthetic issues.
This is most evident when Demirjian shouts lines like “...when I say I’m sad, I mean it. There is no excuse, I need this.” and “I want to die when you're not here, because I'm convinced that everyone else thinks that I'm a dick.” with an uncanny level of passion and sincerity. On top of this, the songwriting is exceptional. Horns and strings are used alongside distorted guitars and fluttering synths to marvelously accentuate the emotion and meaning of the music, building to massive crescendos and dropping out for powerful ambient sections. It’s all pretty wonderful.
The album flows in four movements, each portion separated by an acoustic or instrumental track. In these movements, songs flow together imperceptibly and feel like cohesive episodes. Lyrical motifs abound, mostly dealing with general themes of uncertainty and leaving. Melodies reappear, strengthening certain ideas conceptual ideas and tying the album together. The level of artistry and talent exhibited in this album is unbelievable, especially considering its creators were a group of late-adolescents who were seemingly uninterested in garnering any profits from their work.
I could probably gush about the quality and depth of these twelve songs for a few more pages, but that’d probably get boring pretty quickly. All I want to leave you with is this advice: download this album. It’s free. Listen to it a few times. Listen to it a few more. And read the lyrics! And stick around for the last two songs on this thing. They’re really phenomenal.
Over the course of only a couple of months, this album has become one of my favorites of all time. I imagine that other people would probably enjoy it too. Check it out!