Down Under, a little indie band is capturing the brooding brilliance of The National and the cathartic darkness of Joy Division. In the process, they are winning over fans and critics alike. For City Calm Down, recognition and acclaim started with their second EP, 2012’s Movements, and gathered steam following the release of their debut album, 2015’s In a Restless House. As they close in on celebrating their tenth anniversary, City Calm Down have delivered their Boxer in the form of Echoes in Blue.
Echoes in Blue is a wonderful concept album of love, pain, and redemption. Or in other words, it is the story of our lives. Opener “Joan, I’m Disappearing” and “In This Modern Land” are City Calm Down’s triumphs, representing the band at their very finest. They are bold, loud, urgent, and emotional. The push-pull effect of Bourke’s lyrics on “Distraction/Losing Sleep” – fighting the past while trying to convince he’s moving forward – work terrifically against the band’s slow-building, anthemic approach. Yet on the brooding and languid “Blame”, the puzzle ways heavily on Bourke, whose baritone is replaced by a Pornography-era Robert Smith whisper.
City Calm Down deliver another ferocious blow with “Decision Fatigue”, which is a mesmerizing piece of orchestral art-rock. Bourke’s storytelling is engrossing, as he reveals the hole in one man’s heart. His voice full of regret, he sings:
“I lost my best years in the wait,
Always falling for your next excuse.
Still I’m sitting here my love,
Prepared enough to see all this through.
I’ve lost my energy to fight.
I stay here only for the view.”
Memory and uncertainty seep through the moving “Kingdom”. Bourke sings with a grieving tone, “I didn’t want to open my eyes, afraid of what I might find”. Despite his hurt, he hollers, “I’m the one who wants your blood”, on the rapturous and euphoric “Blood”. Pain then gives way to reality and admittance on the trembling ballad, “I Heard Nothing From You”. Closure is achieved on “Echoes In Blue”, which is a breathtaking synth-wave number. The story’s ending, however, is uncertain or more accurately still to be written. For Jack Bourke, Sam Mullaly, Jeremy Sonnenberg, and Lee Armstrong, their story is only getting started.
To review the first 25 of our Favorite Albums of 2018, click here.
Echoes In Blue is out now via I OH YOU.
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