Sincerity is an easy disguise. It behooves most bands to create a facade of gratitude and general love for their fanbase. After all, these are the people buying your records, concert tickets and merchandise. However, some bands truly live for their admirers. One of these groups is THE CONTORTIONIST, whose latest release Our Bones is not only dedicated to the fans, but also a response to the outpouring of stories the band has been told by its followers. Inspired by the countless tales of how their previous recordings have impacted and helped others, the songs on this disc present a message of hope and aspiration for those who are lonely, in pain or downtrodden.
The EP starts off with a jazzy drum groove and a quick arpeggiated melody, inviting and warm, fitting of the title “Follow,” but then the guitars spur out a louder, distorted variation of the singularly picked chords. The verses drop in on droned guitars, sustaining complex chords over a mid-tempo beat, which fuels a more energetic performance from frontman Mike Lessard than what was heard on Clairvoyant. This song, as well as the remainder of the tracks, shows more of his range, through larger use of harmony and even a slight return to harsher vocals. The chorus to “Follow” is anthemic and will lodge in your head, so be warned. “Early Grave,” for which the band released a video, is a slightly darker, sludgier romp than its predecessor. I interpreted some influence of DEFTONES in the overall energy and some of the vocal delivery in this song; and I say that as a compliment. The song is brooding, yet uplifting, delivering an affirmation with its message. The bridge is breathtakingly stunning and will raise the hairs on your arm.
Another song that led me to interpret certain influences was “All Grey” which, despite not sounding anything like an ALICE IN CHAINS song, reminded me of some of their work on Jar of Flies. At less than two minutes, it’s more of an interlude than an actual song. However, the keyboard work is astoundingly gorgeous, the guitars shimmer with sweet, sumptuous sounds, and Lessard’s lyrics are vulnerable and genuine. In keeping with the theme of reciprocating inspiration, the disc ends with a cover of “1979” from SMASHING PUMPKINS. If you’re like me, you grew up with this song as a stable of your 90’s soundtrack. And, also, if you’re like me, despite loving this song, you probably always felt like Billy Corgan’s vocals sound more comparable to a dying cat than a human. So you can imagine the way it felt to have this song delivered by a phenomenal vocalist.
Though short in stature, Our Bones is complex and encompasses the full breadth of sound that the group has established since their drastic lineup change five years ago. Every song breathes life into the most dismal corner of your being, providing an uplifting message of hope. It’s an elevating declaration of love for which the band holds for its followers and you need to take a listen.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM