Babehoven: Sunk (Double Double Whammy) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Double Double Whammy

Mar 31, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

In the four years since their first EP, Sleep, Vermont duo Babehoven has released a new EP each successive year, acting both as diaristic check-ins with singer/songwriter Maya Bon and as documents of her growing skills as an artist. With each EP, Bon has seemed to grow in confidence and in her artistry. Though she and collaborator Ryan Albert continue to root their arrangements in folk, slowcore, and lo-fi, their approach to melody remains offbeat and captivating and Bon’s lyrics have become increasingly poignant.

Last year’s EP, Nastavi, Calliope, was a work of dense beauty, exploring “a cascade of losses” with meticulously layered craftsmanship. Babehoven’s latest EP, Sunk, takes a different approach, expanding on the themes of loss and grief with a precious intimacy and a stark presentation inspired by Elliott Smith’s Either/Or. Soft thrums of guitar and wispy touches of drums are Bon’s main accompaniment, providing a spotlit stage for her poetic musings. But, much like Smith’s lauded record, Bon and Albert make the most of their stark arrangements, crafting songs that still teem with expansive depths.

Part of that depth lies in Babehoven’s refusal to take easy paths. Even at their most slight and delicate, the duo embellishes each track with its own defining element. The pastoral melodies of “Creature” twist and fracture by the song’s end, descending into a beautiful cacophony. Similarly, “Stapling” finds Bon joined by crackling layers of guitar, guiding the track’s slowcore elements into the world of lo-fi indie rock. Meanwhile, Bon’s vocals and melodies resist conventional pop forms, instead trailing off into new winding directions at her whim. Over the course of the seven-minute closer, “Twenty Dried Chillies,” Bon’s poetry comes out in fits and starts, sometimes rippling out in a rush of words and at other times elongating a note in almost operatic form.

But as entrancing as Babehoven’s songwriting talents are, the truest highlight of Sunk proves to be Bon’s lyrics. If Nastavi, Calliope was Bon’s attempt to wrestle with loss and grief, Sunk feels like an attempt to live within the aftermath, to find absolution despite pain’s looming presence. This pain proves both personal and universal. The opener “Fugazi” is an unrepentantly vulnerable look at heartbreak, with Bon excavating the everyday misogyny that often runs underneath the indie scene. Similarly, the desolate landscape of “The Way Things Burn” marries the overlapping lenses of climate anxiety and Bon’s own fears for the future一”I’m reading ‘bout the way things will burn/In some time or in no time/I’m thinking how can I plan a life in turn/When everything is hopeless?”

In the final minutes of Sunk, Babehoven perfectly captures this tension between the inner and outer worlds with “Twenty Dried Chillies.” Though the song begins as a stream-of-consciousness portrait of a day spent watching TV, Bon diverts down the pathways of memory, exploring abandonment, generational trauma, and the pain of aging. Packed within the song’s sprawling narrative, Bon delivers a poignant thesis, “I’m at a loss at what happens in this world/It is a cruel sensation, remembering I am human/And I’m prone to accidents of heart.” Bon, like so many others, finds herself lost within the storms of this world, tossed about by the winds of change and accidents of heart. With Sunk, Bon stops fighting against the storm, letting herself simply live with her humanity and the pain that accompanies it as she accepts the unfixable. In doing so she delivers her most accomplished work yet. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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