In Time We BelongBroken Circles Records
By Cole Faulkner
Why do we listen to sad music? Surely not to improve our own state of well-being. But perhaps because of the honesty. Nothing is more relatable than heartbreak, and the potential to connect with the right lyric is a powerful sense whether through experience or empathy. Granted this is only true of bands willing to mine and catalogue the depths of humanity (as opposed to the legions of surface value emo bands of yesteryear). That’s where the one-two punch of sentimental transparency echoed by instrumental parallels yanks such thoughts from prose and confronts listeners in tuneful expressions.
The emergence of Austin, Texas’ Slow And Steady highlights the draw that maturity can have on eliciting an emotional response. Front man Jacob Lawter explores the equilibrium that lies between personal expression and precise articulation in Slow And Steady’s debut full length, In Time We Belong. Lawter exposes the inner emotional workings in detailed narration with the vulnerability of Mansions and Pedo The Lion. “I keep flying lower, and I wonder why I can never see the warning signs, the smoke through the trees,” laments Lawter, to which he responds in defeat, “call the search party, tell them I died, watching my life go by.” Emboldened by the somber drag of distant acoustics and mild riffs, Lawter builds momentum as he lets down his guard for the unshielded revelation, “welcome to your twenties, you’ve got a long way to go, it doesn’t help to know that everyone is miserable.” While defeatist in appearance, Lawter’s downtrodden deadpan delivery (like a less optimistic Weakerthans) unravels misgivings with the acceptance of retrospect. With less immediacy, Slow And Steady lights a match in a cave that may have been otherwise too dark to warrant exploration.
The deeper into the darkness Slow And Steady traverse, the broader their horizons stretch. Take the lament of lost identity in “Out Of Touch,” which unravels in a lyrically lucid style not unlike that of Bayside’s Anthony Raneri. The track is enhanced by the deliberate ebb and flow of distorted bass and a recurrent retracting spotlight void of more than a few chords backing up Lawter’s less than enthusiastic drawl. The approach reaches the darkest black during “Disinterested” and again with “Lost At Sea” in which the tempo sluggishly halts to that of a slow crawl with notes lingering incessantly in their subtle emphasis of Lawter’s meticulously enunciated reflections. With such deep emotion also comes the occasional hint of Manchester Orchestra’s acoustic experiments and All Get Out’s unabashed melodic emotional acuity. For example, “Horizon” serves as one of In Time We Belong’s catchy, standalone high points that transcends the dank mood in a steady tuneful way without taking away from the clear felt mood.
Slow And Steady balance uncompromising catharsis with an almost calm deliverance. In Time We Belong reads like a statement of emotional intent. In prose much of In Time We Belong sounds downright depressing, but in song it feels insightful and liberating even under such a burdensome weight. Slow And Steady accomplish what many attempt but few succeed: writing sad songs that are genuinely enjoyable. While that may seem counter intuitive, In Time We Belong is a fully embraceable foray into a fragile state of mind that avoids projecting such crushing emotions onto its listenership. Instead, feelings become framed as if quantifiably featured on a display, immaculately reconstructed and presented in unabashed clarity. The result is nothing short of immersive, and an easy recommendation to anyone looking for a calm yet intense emotional exposition.