Comatose – A Way Back (Transcending Records, 22 January 2021)
Good afternoon! Presented for your listening enjoyment is this album, released earlier this year, which is the first official output of Comatose. This is an assemblage of musicians who have all worked together in some capacity in various other Minnesotan bands such as Chrome Waves and Fail to Decay, among others; a little over a year ago they decided to come together in this new project. They soon found themselves writing and recording a bunch of material representative of how empty they’ve felt over the past year without the ability to tour or perform anywhere — and by extension, how empty we’ve all felt over the past year about everything.
The eight tracks comprising A Way Back are all drenched in reverb and delay and warm distortion, reminiscent of a very specific era of the mid-90s: the guitar tones bring to mind various artists of the time, including Dinosaur Jr. or Dig or Jesus Lizard, while the wall-of-sound arrangements fit in perfectly with the styles of either Hum or Sunny Day Real Estate. In fact, the opening track’s title “Circles” and the lyrics mentioning “in circles” strongly hints toward the latter band as a bit of a touchpoint.
Overall the record resides in a sweet spot somewhere in the intersection of a Venn diagram of those bands mentioned (and countless others of the same general historic period), but it seems to increase in angst as it progresses: about halfway through we encounter “Skin,” whose lyrics are the source for the album’s title, and “Spread,” each of which gets a little heavier rhythmically — and the tracks that follow, “Inside” and “Further” grow heavy still, even featuring some harsh vocals in places. The first of these has chorus lyrics that declare, “it’s nothing / I’m fine / there’s nothing left inside,” which is simply a perfect encapsulation of life as we know it in the 2020s.
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