If you’re a regular here you know that in the past couple months I’ve featured Sons Of An Illustrious Father twice before. The first time for their EP, We Are Dead And Reborn and the second for their video of the song “Glass Nor Stone.” That song appears on their new full-length, One Body, and I was lucky enough to get an advance copy.
There are a couple songs on the new release that we’ve heard previously, so I won’t add anything new on those. They are track two: “Solution: Burn It” and the album closer “We Are Dead And Reborn.”
My first spin through One Body occurred on my bus ride to work a few days ago. I got through the first song and immediately hit repeat. Then again. And again. “We Will Do Great Things” is a amazing album opener. It begins with accordion, quickly followed by the vocals from Sofia Albam. The opening line, “You’ve been having dreams of isolation, but lord knows we’ve all been changin'” cuts hard.
The song got me thinking about the power music holds over us. How a few chords can make your eyes well up, or how certain melodies can remind you of a sunny day. It’s a fascinating thing, music. Tolstoy once said “Music is the shorthand of emotion.” I’ve never heard that more accurately portrayed than One Body in its entirety.
On the song “Mercy,” Lilah Larson’s voice is reminiscent of great old soul singers that grew up singing gospel music. It’s throaty and feels drenched in whiskey and regret. The song’s chorus features backing vocals that act as a full congregation raising their voices to God as they sing “Mercy. Mercy. Mercy on us all.” The song also features a solo on keys that rocks, but I can’t tell if it’s a Wurlitzer or a Hammond or what.
“Mr. Nobody” is the first song on the album to feature Jake Generalli on vocals. It’s a slow-building track that combines great percussive work with a brilliant lead guitar performance. My favorite lyric from this one is: “don’t you know you gotta save your own soul, or you’ll die die die.”
The band switches gears a bit with “240 Miles.” The guitars are a little surf rock, and the country-infused blues/punk gives way to a more lounge-y sound. It’s an interesting song, not just for the different music, but also the lyrics are some of the best on the album, as Albam returns to sing: “you make me wanna be better than before. You make me wanna stay sober. But you’re 240 miles.”
I posted the video for “Glass Nor Stone” a while back, but I didn’t say much about it. I think it’s a good choice for a lead single, as it features a ton of the bands biggest asset, the vocals (this time sung by Larson). It isn’t my personal favorite, but singles rarely are. The tune is radio-friendly, so I hope some college stations pick it up and get these guys some airplay. This line really stands out to me: “I’ve been quarantined and fined by my misanthropic mind, I been cold and it chilled me to the bone. Trying to protect my hive friends and enemies alike, my trust is underfunded, a skill I’ve yet to hone.”
The second to last track, “We Are Born And We Die,” acts as a companion piece to the final song “We Are Dead And Reborn.” This is the most country-tinged song on the album, and it’s a gorgeous hymn about life and love. “We are born and we die, and in the intervening time we get holes in our shirts our faces fill with dirt, but everything is gonna be fine.”
Albam’s vocals seriously give me chills toward the end of this one. And the message bleeds perfectly into the final song.
We’ve heard this one already, so I’ll just throw one thing in about it.
My favorite line on the whole record is delivered by Generalli near the end of this song, and it kind of encapsulates everything the album is about: “It’s just a simple song that you can pass along, put a smile on the face of someone new. And someday it’ll make it’s way back to you.” If you’re a fan of Arcade Fire, start with this song. It shares a lot of qualities with a lot of their songs from Funeral.
Putting this album into words is a nearly impossible task (as you’ve no doubt gathered from my rambling). It’s like trying to describe Malick to someone who has never seen his films. You can use adjectives like “beautiful” or “sweeping,” but until someone sees it, the words are meaningless. Sons Of An Illustrious Father have come out of nowhere in the past few months and proven to be a band of the highest quality. I hope that you all give this record a chance. My guess is that after one spin it will be in constant rotation on your iPod. It is on mine.