Break-ups are complicated. There's a lot of emotions going on - many of them contradictory, hardly any of them rational. Breaking up with your lover affects every single aspect and area of your life - your physical stability, your emotions, your finances, your self-worth. It's a visceral process, that can feel like dying at times, as our old and outdated ideas of ourselves struggle to re-orient themselves in realtime.
Considering the amount of intense emotions involved, it's no surprise that "the break-up album" is one of rock n’ roll's most cherished formats. From Fleetwood Mac's Rumours to Spiritualized's Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, albums created in the throes of despair, elation and emptiness that comes with a lover's departure.
The Good Grief by Omaha's The Way Out does a wonderful job of summarizing all of these emotions with heavy fuzz riffs and catchy pop harmonies vacillating like the sun breaking through a leaden, overcast day.
The Good Grief was inspired by two of The Way Out's members breaking up. Instead of burning pictures, leaving countless messages, shit-talking them to the their friends or just going on a six-month blackout bender, The Way Out's two principal songwriters Levi and Mari wove the napalm emotions into a tapestry of heavy power pop and jangly indie guitar rock.
If Weezer were to write a break-up record with the guitarist from Explosions In The Sky and bring in Frankie Cosmos for lyrical and vocal duties, it might sound a lot like The Good Grief. Mira's roots are like in infectious indie rock, a la Pixies/The Breeders, while Levi favors a thick, pummeling rhythmic guitar assault that would do Mastodon proud. Whatever the lyrical origin, power pop and fuzz rock always make fine bedfellows. Sludge/stoner/doom can often be too repetitive, too samey-same, sliding off your eardrums like oil off of a duck's back. Likewise, indie pop/rock can be too saccharine to truly capture the layered emotions of a break-up.
Consider the album opener “Intro," perfectly capturing the tightrope act of despair and excitement, as Mira bravely sings "I know I don't need you anymore," over Levi's crashing, thunderous sheets of guitar. It sets a tone which builds, breaks and explores throughout The Good Grief, until finally culminating in the Catherine wheel pyrotechnics of "Nerves", where epic post-rock guitars shimmer and scintillate over a thick, syrupy, sludgy rhythm section.
The Good Grief by The Way Out is like The Soup Dragon's "I'm Free" for the 21st century, which is great, as that song sucks and this album is incredible! A great opening from a talented band. Ones to keep an eye/ear on, for sure!
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