3 out of 5
Label: Comedy Minus One
Produced by: Bottomless Pit
Fascinatingly understated, and presented wholly with purpose – it’s haunting artwork and odd but delicate color choices; the way the songs bound between contemplative and rockers, side to side of the 45RPM LPs – Blood Under the Bridge is also so understated as to leave something of a gap between music and listener, coming across as a response to something, some question or mood, that’s happening or happened elsewhere.
The core sound, thankfully, follows the thread from Silkworm to what we found on the first Bottomless Pit release: trading off vocals between Andy Cohen and Tim Midyett, their tracks also trading between more emotive, unplugged contemplations and hard-edged metaphors spewed over rocky riffage, there’s not a song on Blood Under the Bridge that doesn’t deliver a striking melody, or instantly head-bobbing theme, the warm production well-serving the dual-guitar / bass / drums approach and giving the whole record a very intimate vibe.
But that intimacy, again, has something of a remove to it: almost all of the lyrics, whether from Cohen or Midyett, seem layered with a resigned regret, and confusion; even when things get more volatile, or look to examine the common-man working-day vibes that’ve bubbled up on former releases, it’s not exactly world-weary or angry, so much as heaving a sigh and shrugging shoulders indecisively, a mood which carries over into how the songs, in general, come across. The very decision to start the album with a couple of its most soft-spoken and downbeat tunes feels telling; we get some rockers on the other side of the LP, but even these are slow to arrive, the album only really opening up when the C-side allows thoughts and riffs to formalize a bit more, combining Cohen’s and Midyett’s approaches to an extent.
Maybe needless to say, the effectiveness of this is somewhat dictated by the format: when I was switching LPs over, the distinction was clear; when I first listened to the album digitally, the structure doesn’t really land, and I found myself nodding to the grooves, but kind of underwhelmed in waiting for some really notable song to rock out.
Repeated listens – the lyrics; the way the songs grow to mini-triumphs – prove out the purposefulness of this setup, but it still errs more on the side of fascinating than directly compelling, even if every track features a hummable melody, or some classic, hard-edged Silkworm-ish interplay.