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Euphoria by Insides (Review)

The greatest concept albums are not the ones that tackle the adapting of some monumental work of symphony or literature into rock format. The Yesses, Dream Theaters, and such of the world would do well to look at the concept albums that choose instead to focus on one coherent thread of human experience. Consider Dark Side of the Moon, The Wall, or more in this decade, Bark Psychosis’ Hex, which according to the band, was about ​“the city as lover,” or the claustrophobic, neurotic, and ultimately utterly exhilarating sides of love as depicted in the album Euphoria.

Kirsty Yates’ voice leers and curls around each syllable of every ​“did she really say that?” lyric here. Uncomfortably confessional observations abound like ​“I hate lovers. I hate the way they go to the bathroom in shifts after they’ve fucked,” or ​“You’re skinny. Way too skinny. All arms and legs and what’s there for me to sink my teeth into, wrap my tongue around.” I haven’t swooned over lyrics this much since the daze of The Prayer Chain. Consider the wit of naming a song ​“Carly Simon” (she sang ​“You’re So Vain”) and having the first line be ​“What if demanding attention has nothing to do with devotion and everything to do with self-obsession”?

It’s the perfect dichotomy of love here, intense relationships being too involved to bear, but their absence proves even more intolerable. These sentiments here are elegantly dressed in urban, yet not gauche, modern stylings. The setting is the city, more evening and twilight rather than late, late night à la Hex or Slowdive’s Pygmalion. You get the feeling you could see entire seasons pass with this record on the changer, falling in and out of love and hate as it plays on. This is a record of ecstatic dates that turned into miasmic mornings, and then the panic of that person not calling back later (or the panic of not being able to decide whether to call or not).

Some people write a great song that will never be heard as the brilliance it truly is, since it may be clothed in a boring arrangement, or shackled improperly to a lone guitar or piano. Some people conjure heavenly auras with effect pedals and processors, but opt not to strum more than a solitary chord. Julian Sergei Tardo’s subdued guitars and programming here strike a balance between perfect song-craft and textural complexity that has no equal. Points of reference here are perhaps the Durutti Column, a Cranes where the flawed, eerie beauty is replaced by a calmer, autumnal coquettishness, or a maybe even a more austere, electronic Smiths.

Written by Pearson Greer.


Read more about 4AD, Euphoria, and Insides.

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