Frontman Scott Krueger explains how they struggled to tell “a bigger narrative” through the short-form content.  With “Conjure” as their first full-length album, they’ve been able to do just that—give themselves room to tell a story and reach another level of boldness in the writing and sound.

I put albums into two categories: Sonic and Lyrical. With the hard-hitting sound from the biting lead guitars and the dark cutting sound of Krueger’s voice, this album is definitely Sonic. While the content of the lyrics don’t strike me too much, they have an infectious rhythmic quality all throughout the album, that makes songs like “10,000” super easy to catch on to.

A big quality of these sonic albums is that the songs, and the album itself, have a big scale of dynamic range. Songs like “Take Your Money” start with just two-note chords, root and third, on guitar and a verse sang in Krueger’s lower register. By the second verse, he’s singing an octave higher, giving the song an entirely different direction and power that you could almost anticipate from the beginning of the song. You know you’ve got a great song when the verse is as catchy as a chorus, and that’s what they do in “Take Your Money,” with each section as catchy as the next

I only listen to albums that really evoke some kind of emotion. I think that’s what makes certain music innately good, no matter the genre or label it’s given. “Conjure” definitely captures a lot of raw emotion; there’s a lot of doubt and fear in “Stay” (“I don’t want to dream, I don’t want to sleep, I just want to stay awake to see the morning light”), and “10,000,” mixed with the resentfulness and anger in “Wicked Lies” and “Take Your Money.” You can clearly see, even in some of the song titles, that this is some kind of rough break-up or break-down album.

It starts with “Suddenly Everything,” which is almost a surrender, followed by “Conjure,” which is defined as calling upon someone or something, maybe bigger than yourself. These two songs open up the story, where the rest of the album is like a flash back of moments, starting defiantly with anger (track 3-5), then fear of loss (tracks 6-11) , and then understanding and acceptance hitting in track 12, “Dissipate.”

The album ends with “Tomorrow,” a short, one-minute conclusion of hope, with a beautiful string and piano arrangement that completely contrasts the bulk of the album. It acts as a reprise of “Dissipate,” by turning around the phrase “The sun is rising and we keep falling,” to “The sun keeps rising despite all our sorrows.”

Placeholder imageEveryone has a different recipe for the perfect “setlist” to an album, but I love how Elliot Root closed with these last two tracks, giving you some time to reflect with smooth textures that seem to capture the lessons from earlier moments of anger and fear in the album and maybe earlier in Krueger’s life.

This group has a lot to offer and I’m excited to hear more from them. They’ll be on tour in October, if you happen to be anywhere in the southeast. Otherwise you can track them on bandsintown.com here.