Category: Rock / Alternative
Album: Love Gloom
Blurb: An exploration of the sadness of love and the love of sadness; catchy, poppy, tender, emotionally heavy without becoming emo, searching, soaring, and you need to hear it soon. In one word – majestic.
In the search for new music, we may all too often trip into precious bands trying too hard to look like they tried too little singing cute, little irrelevancies about stuff they hope is so lame we’ll think it’s cool. But sometimes you bump into something worth your time. The name Night Riots might set you up to expect some cool twisted cross between Night Ranger and Quiet Riot. Instead you get some of The Cure, Depeche Mode (more in terms of the guitar lines than the electronics), Morrissey, a bit of Bloc Party, a dash of Jeff Buckley, a tinge of Bends and OK Computer era Radiohead, and perhaps a hint now and then of U2. But the band is much more than the sum of its influences. Formed in 2010, Night Riots self-released three EPs and an album before signing with Sumerian Records. Since then, another EP and the full-length Love Gloom have appeared.
These are songs of fractured divinity, separated spirituality, love delayed, decayed, and gone away. Lead vocalist Travis Hawley sings with an alienated majesty, an exiled king with a broken crown making proclamations over an alienated, lonely empire. The album begins with “Ego Sum in Colubrum,” which translates to “I am no one,” but this pose is contradicted with the opening track “Nothing Personal,” featuring lyrics like “The center of the world is lonely me” and “I’ll be the king, you’ll be the filth I wash away / I am the truth, I am the light, I am the way.” It’s the voice you might expect from Pope Pius XIII (Lenny Belardo) – a.k.a. Young Pope – to strut out to as he grinds some underling to dust beneath his heels. However, just as quickly as the album assumes a narcissistic persona, it reverses in the pleading “Don’t Kill the Messenger” as the singer explains that “I’m no center of the universe.” The singer faces and processes some difficult truths about himself realizing that “I’m in love with fire / I’m in love with pain,” the irresistible urges perhaps resulting in “a God-shaped hole,” whether in himself, someone else, or both remains unknown. Later in the song, he ruminates about a dissipated relationship, “And what could I do? / What could I change? / We are not the same?” The first third of the album concludes with “Work It,” which details the beginning of an important relationship. “Manus Loquimini Veritatem” means “seek the truth,” and this middle suite of compositions is about trying to get at the truth behind the face of things, especially relationships. “Breaking Free” details how haunted the singer is by the object of his affection. Although, “It’s been long enough to know it’s over / I’ve been holding on,” searching for “peace” and “closure,” the singer realizes that “You’re not my savior, just someone I used to see,” and ultimately places the blame on himself as he believes that “I am broken / Something’s wrong inside of me.” The singer returns to the subject of his past love in “All for You” before moving into the devastating “Tear me Apart” – perhaps the best track on the album – in which he asks, “Where do you start and I begin? / I’m losing my best friend.” As the tracks move through the album, I falls to we, me becomes a hope of us, and ego gives way to humility. “Ego Flos Sum Luna,” or, “I am the flower of the moon,” marks the third section featuring songs that demonstrate a persona that has come through the end of a relationship shaken but finding strength, still looking backward, but also beginning to look forward. “As You Are” asks that you “Don’t change for me / There’s nothing to fix / You’re not broken.” The song asks, offers, maybe even begs, “Can we just start over?”
Love Gloom – almost the name of a genre – starts with such a heavy focus on self, and then strips itself down into self-discovery, self-acceptance, and acceptance of others. So much of the album focuses on a lost love. By opening up to this degree, a band runs the risk of falling into banality, becoming overly self-referential. If it works, the searing honesty becomes something larger than itself. The irony of writing about the personal is that sometimes it’s the only way to express the universal. When it works, it’s good… sometimes very good, but very rarely this good.
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Professor of English and Chair of Humanities
Beacon College, http://www.beaconcollege.edu