Writer: Abby Jeffers.
Full of quirky folk-rock, every note on The Speedbumps’ latest album, “When The Darkness Comes”, is charged with electricity. It never gets frantic, but there are always sparks to keep the album moving. There’s an autumnal distinction between crisp guitar and soft, mushy feelings of loneliness and love.
There’s a predictable progression through the album, from “The Chosen Sons”, which begins dynamic and daring with a confident swagger, to “Love is War”, maintaining that edge despite pretty, lush cello and a less intense tempo. It moves from a cool gray sound into something warmer and deeper, slowing without becoming sluggish.
Despite eccentric percussion patterns and sweetly smooth harmonies, every note is intentional in the complex, moving layers of instrumentals. It’s not contrived, however, as the sound gets thicker throughout. The title track, “When The Darkness Comes”, incorporates cello and synth among the “traditional” indie rock instruments, but it meshes effortlessly into something almost chaotic and overwhelming.
Later, things take a turn and tracks get surprisingly simplistic, leaving the focus on a specific sound instead of the near-overwhelming feeling of everything at once.
The lack of vocals in “You’re Gonna Need Someone” highlights the rich, lavish cello tone, which comes in waves over the course of a minute and provides a moment to breathe before returning to the faster-paced final four tracks of the album. Conversely, the final track, “Counting On You”, features little else besides vocals, feeling echoing and ending the record on a hollow note that leaves you wishing for more.
The theme of the album – the “post-relationship waters” that everyone struggles their way through, according to lead singer Erik Urycki – has the potential to become a cliché. Nonetheless, vibrant lyrics like, “Cause lonely’s for the dead and done,” in “Someone To Believe In” prevent platitude and keep it fresh.
September fits “When The Darkness Comes” well. The combination of cooling weather and colors changing from green to red is sharp and sweet, and as “cuffing season” comes and goes, far more new couples will be left to deal with exactly the romance troubles that the album describes.
Originally published on In The Record Store on September 7, 2017.