We Should Rejoice by Lee Bozeman (Review)
I included a new Luxury album in my 2023 music outlook based solely on a tweet from last November. That might’ve seemed a bit presumptuous on my part, but this week, Lee Bozeman confirmed that a new Luxury album is, in fact, in the works. In the meantime, he released We Should Rejoice, an EP containing four songs that didn’t make it onto the new Luxury album.
It might be tempting, then, to dismiss We Should Rejoice as secondhand material that wasn’t good enough for an album, but the fact is that Bozeman’s secondhand material is probably stronger than most people’s A-sides. What’s more, I’m not at all convinced that these four songs are secondhand to begin with.
We Should Rejoice is some of the most subdued material I’ve heard from Bozeman to date. The Morrissey-esque swoon and swagger are largely absent from his vocals; at times, he seems to rise barely above a whisper. As for his lyrics, they contain rueful contemplations of the disconnect between faith and practice, between orthodoxy and orthopraxy (for all you theological types out there).
“We should rejoice/But we probably won’t,” he sighs on the title track. The song’s chorus — “We should rejoice/Our hearts all aflame with the sound I enjoy/Lift up your voice/A true believer” — could be read as a confession of frustration with his parishioners (Bozeman is an Orthodox priest) for their failure to worship, as well as a condemnation of his own pride. Indeed, given his vocation as a priest, it’s tempting to read a line like “Do they have the answers when I don’t?” as something that must certainly run through a churchman’s head from time to time.
Later, “My Eyes Are Up Here” puts a spin on the Beatitudes (“Blessed are you who keep your houses clean”) to explore the tension that exists between lofty visions of faith and mundane worldly concerns. “My eyes are up here/But my body’s nowhere close/To finding it out” Bozeman sings before ending with a question that is, by turns, reflective and cynical: “What do you know about life?”
Musically, We Should Rejoice is also hushed, relying more on muted synth arrangements than slashing post-punk guitars. (David Bowie’s Low is a nice, classic point of reference.) This is particularly true on the EP’s final song, which reimagines the title track as a fog-enshrouded piece that’s all shades of gray, sonically speaking — which also serves to heighten the doubt and ambiguity in Bozeman’s lyrics.
We Should Rejoice is absolutely a nice tide-you-over until Luxury’s new album is released (hopefully later this year). But that shouldn’t take away from the fact that it’s a solid piece of work in its own right, and yet another intriguing batch of songs from one of Christendom’s most unique and inimitable voices.