Grooms

Exit Index

Western Vinyl

Dec 14, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Find It At: AMAZON

"Where are my millions?," Grooms' frontman Travis Johnson sings in nearly a catatonic stupor on the crepuscular Exit Index opener "The Directory." It conveys the dystopian nightmare of living in modern America, a fool's gold promise predicated upon avarice and a disdain for aesthetic beauty, making money and gaining power at any cost possible. It's also something of a motif guiding this superb albuma soundtrack of what it's like to be utterly lost, without a compass or a clue as to how to navigate the cultural wasteland since a clown-car, sociopath caricature somehow was elected as the leader of the "free" world, and its deeper implications.

The album maintains a pitch-black mood throughout, and foregoes much of the Sonic Youth-esque burst and bloom the band were once so synonymous with. Like the aural equivalent of a David Lynch film, it folds in on itself, with overt sermonizing eschewed in favor of oblique impressionism. Yet, like Lynch's best work, it connects at a subconscious level. You might not make the connections at the surface, and it poses more questions, but given time and repeated listens, the jigsaw pieces fall into place.

"End" is its emotional apotheosis, about the death of Johnson's friend Thomas Fekete, guitarist of Surfer Blood. The lyrics have a stream of consciousness feel akin to when Michael Stipe started to sort of make sense, not completely, but getting there at least without speaking in tongues, such as parts of Reckoning. Johnson singing "feeding lions to children for one" is perhaps the most directly affected he gets on the album, evoking a sacrificial yet ineluctable loss, exquisitely mournful and deeply personal.

Musically Exit Index is irresistible, evocative of the arcane sides of Broadcast, The United States of America, and more esoteric ilk, with a rhythm section that kicks with visceral restraint in drummer Steve Levine and bassist Jay Heiselmann. They lock in with Johnson's guitar and its myriad loops and effects prevalent throughout the album when they could easily overwhelm, illustrating just how important space is on any great record.

And that ultimately is what impresses most on Exit Index-space in a time of cacophonous noise. It makes you think slowly and contemplate the disdain of aesthetic beauty in a culture that seems uglier and more disingenuous by the moment, and appreciate that there are pure points of light that aren't shouting the loudest for attention. That is where Grooms are in 2017, and it's a very fulfilling place to visit. (www.groomsgrooms.com)

Author rating: 8.5/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 7/10



Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.