Bottomless Pit – Shade Perennial

3 out of 5

Label: Comedy Minus One

Produced by: Bottomless Pit (?)

It is hard for me to judge Bottomless Pit outside of a Silkworm window. Only half of the two-person band is from that one, but perhaps owing to our trading-off vocalists – Andy Cohen and Tim Midyett having such distinctive voices, singing styles, playing styles, and a preference for, often, working-man lyrical content, it’s hard not to identify a good chunk of upfront elements of Bottomless Pit with that former band… not to mention the flowing bass, kick-style drums, and earthy production are all damned reminiscent as well…

But BP is not Silkworm, and it’s maybe moreso a problem because of all those similarities: instead of sounding quite different, and thus bringing with it a new set of criteria to assess, a lot of their work serves as a reminder of what Silkworm did so well, and how this group hasn’t really seemed to find their own unique sound as of yet. (Compare to Midyett’s Mint Mile, or Cohen’s work with Light Coma – both have inevitable notes of SKWM, of course, but are definitely identifiable separately.) And perhaps it’s even more notable as they’ve gone along, because Hammer of the Gods seemed like it was on its way to something bigger and better, while Blood Under the Bridge pulled in some of that, but then got caught up in messaging a bit; the weight of expectations? And Shade Perennial does seem like a logical next step, casting off that weight and going for hooks and heavy riffs – it’s a much more immediate listen than what’s come before. But then it also feels instantly more, hrm, familiar as well, slotting in with exactly the kind of sharp, melodic work on Silkworm’s last couple full releases, perhaps substituting another singalong chorus for ‘Worm’s soloing, but nonetheless. That sense of safety ends up pervading the disc – is the title ‘Perennial Shade’ perhaps telling? – and while every song connects in terms of head-bob-ability, and the disc is exceedingly sequenced to go from rockers to soft-to-loud pop tracks and back, the same emotional wall that Blood couldn’t push past is still up; like the group is afraid to tap into the emotion that fueled their debut. I read this as Bottomless Pit still trying not to sound like Silkworm, but that happening to be the way the songs are going. So they stray from pushing it too much, trying to hang on to a lighter sound – more jangle; less rock – and the material isn’t allowed to blossom.

Which is very much a shame, since the core hooks and rhythms are killer, and you’ll be humming along with and tapping your toe to most of these as they play… But then, I find, the songs aren’t sticking around, and I end up getting something from Hammer of the Gods or a Silkworm song playing in my head instead.