Every Friday, I scour the internet for new music releases. The weekly Friday Awards will highlight my favorite discovery each week, with a special emphasis on artists that are new, new-ish, or new to me.
January 29th was surely the year’s most stacked release date yet. For most of the weekend, I was torn between writing about Remedy Drive‘s Imago Amor or Weezer‘s OK Human; that shouldn’t distract from pretty stunning and attention-grabbing debuts from British neo-soul singer-songwriters Celeste and Arlo Parks; meanwhile, for the purposes of this blog, I was trying not to devote too much time to new singles from the likes of Mason Zgoda, Chevelle, August Burns Red, Charlie Simpson, and more.
But all told, when I finally got around to trying out the sophomore release from the Sonder Bombs, I knew that this explosive release was the worthy recipient of this weekend’s Friday Award. Previously, I’d never understood the hype behind the Sonder Bombs, but they’ve fully won me over on this fun, weird, emotional, bombastic [har har] collection of songs. From the surging opener “Papillon” (which builds to an epic bridge that shows off the band’s very real musical chops) to the upbeat and cleverly-titled closer “Play It By Fear,” the Sonder Bombs have woven an undeniable album that positions them as one of the most exciting artists in the scene.
What Clothbound accomplishes so brilliantly well can best be heard on the album’s second and second-to-last tracks, “Crying is Cool” and “k.” The former tempers the band’s attitude and aggression with some classic soul and doo-wop flare before opening up into the guitar-rock of the chorus, only to then mix these two styles together for a transcendent second verse. The band flexes a casual mastery of a dozen different sub-genres that modern indie-rock, pop-punk, and emo music love to flirt with, whether that means dabbling in old-fashioned instrumentation or modern synths. This takes us to the aforementioned “k.,” where everything drops into an ugly, impressive, and downright cool breakdown that most of the Sonder Bomb’s contemporaries lack the gall, the wit, or the prowess to pull off. That this metal moment exists in a song littered with ukulele is both baffling and exhilarating.
What’s better than mere variety is how well it all works together. Clothbound‘s genre-jumping comes not from a place of identity crisis, but rather from a confidence of who this band is and what all they can do together. When the genre-mashing, unexpected dynamic shifts, and beautiful layers of instruments get stripped away, you’re left with rock-solid compositions with memorable lyrics and melodies; Clothbound points toward a future where the Sonder Bombs can pull back into simpler music, drill down into one of the many styles presented here, or expand their palette into a third album that’s even crazier and more varied. Either which way, it’s bound to be great.
Author’s Note: The reason I created this website and write these articles stems from my belief that artists should support other artists, in the same way that art inspires art. My sophomore album Development & Compromise is available now and I’d love for you to hear it.