RhombithianRed Scare Industries
By Cole Faulkner
Deanna Belos may not be a well known name in the punk rock community outside of Chicago, but with the release of her debut full length, Rhombithian, that is about to change. According to various interviews and bios, Belos has been heavily involved in the Chicago punk scene since she was an age at which it was socially acceptable for her to be a part of it. Before long she picked up a guitar of her own, made early career links with Red Scare, and opened for one of her idols, Brendan Kelly of The Lawrence Arms. Red Scare talent scout and label bigwig Tobias Jeg took notice and the rest is history.
Belos arrives on the scene under the moniker Sincere Engineer, with her debut full length serving as both a love letter to the scene she has become a part of, and a testament to her immense potential henceforth. Rhombithian is a straight up punk rock gem with an acoustic soul. The influence of her fandom with The Lawrence Arms family tree is abundantly clear, drawing upon compositional likenesses from all avenues. There’s the gruff, don’t-give-a-damn vocal edge drawn from various Brendan Kelly side projects (most notably Brendan Kelly & The Wandering Birds), mixed with the calm, down to earth and earnest nature of Chris McCaughan’s acoustic identify, Sundowner. Belos makes for a cumulative liveliness that jumps forth from the speakers in a way that fuses her own spirit with the fiery life force of The Lawrence Arms.
Right from the start, Rhombithian is full of standout tracks and album highlights. Opener “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7” is a scrappy little number from which Belos demonstrates her vocal talents. From sloppy low landing grumblers, to hefty chorus leading fist raisers, the song spring Belos’ penchant for gritty yet infectious melodies to life. Songs like “Overbite” are transparent and relatable through lines like “I don’t care about anything as much as I used to” in which Belos raises questions of dignity and motivation. A quick rattling chorus comes strategically balanced by a wave of “woah-oah” vocals that make the song an infectious sing along standout. Conversely, when she backpedals to a slower speed, as per “Screw Up,” she draws upon a jangly, off kilter indie sensibility that offers pacing and flow. It’s not the type of track I would gravitate to in isolation, but fits the mood within the album’s context.
Belos has a fun way with words that fit her playful front. Songs like “Ceramic Tile” serve as fun little love letters to life’s troubling little encounters. In recovering from late nights of overindulgence, she begins to express an unlikely relationship with her common venue of recovery. She comes to “welcome forehead kisses from the floor,” later singing of “toothpaste splatters in the bathroom mirror,” and “blood cells… in the bathroom sink.” Other fun little observations can be found in descriptions of recurring bad dreams as she sings in the first person: “I don’t want to go to sleep smash my face on the snowy concrete, or the ones where I loose all my teeth, or when I’m suffocating and I can’t breath.”
The album closes with “Ghosts In The Graveyard,” which is significant due to its acoustic execution. In interviews, Belos described how Sincere Engineer started as an acoustic project, and that during the writing of Rhombithian the project evolved into a full band affair. Despite the full band structure, there’s a distinct Sundowner pulse running through the album, hinting at room for future growth and exploration. As it stands now, Rhombithian is an unassuming gem and one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. Here’s to a budding career ready to enter full blood.