Review Summary: mistakes and ladders
This album is so straightforward in its intentions that, ironically, I’m at a loss for how to summarise it in as many words. How about a summer album for people who don’t like summer" Or, take it a rung higher: consider the title of Cheem’s sophomore record, Downhill
, to be a carefree epigram and not a pessimistic one; a deliberate tumble down the slope in opposition to being pushed off steady footing. I have plenty of dumb questions for this album, to which I’m sure it would only give me the childish answers I deserve. But, in the interest of clarity, I’d ask how
it manages to glow in the aftermath of a difficult episode, why
the lyrics -- often permeated by a certain fear and/or anxiety -- are so consistently pitted against the most buoyant instrumentals I’ve heard this year, and where
I can sign up to be a part of the intoxicating vocal interplay that litters Cheem’s oeuvre.
Sometimes, as is with Downhill
, music skips pretence and endeavours only to have/elicit a good time. Every other consequence is a side-effect -- the relatability, the bite-sized nuggets of emotional profundity, and the overarching atmospheres are slowly unveiled only in the middle of a singalong. How about busy music to daydream to" Game Boy Color
is constructed from the ground up by employing fidgety guitar lick after fidgety guitar lick, with dual vocals running parallel to the chaos as if realising: "the song’s almost over, so we may as well have fun with it while it’s here."
It’s only until, like, the tenth listen that you realise it’s about broken connections and apprehension, and the band themselves -- I imagine -- have to remind themselves of the fact, as they catch themselves smiling so hard it reaches their eyes. Even the most explicit declaration on the whole album: “I think I’m getting better”, is so fragile it may as well come with a question mark, a stipulation or two; but it’s a question the affirming tonal shift seems to answer -- the song turning suddenly on its heel from brittle to determined with just a chord progression to signify the difference. Listening to it passively is a wonderful time; listening to it ruminatively is a fulfilling one.
I’m having an equal amount of trouble trying to work out why I’ve fallen so closely in step with an alt-rock/emo album that, upon initial inspections, is just like every other alt-rock/emo album released this decade. It’s intricate, heartfelt, convivial -- in the same vein as your People Like Yous and your Dryjackets and your Their / They’re / Theres, but I think its resolve is stronger; it explicitly outlines its concerns and then implicitly implores you not to worry about them. I realise that I’m appraising this record when I should be flailing my limbs to it, but I think my guilty conscience is mollified somewhat by that scene playing in my head -- where the band stop themselves, mid-jam, and dwell in that split second of understanding: "never have we had so much fun with our own neuroses"
How about the least emo Emo record you've never heard"