This article previously appeared on Crossfader
Bandcamp Picks of the Week, as large and in charge as ever
Psychic Twin – STRANGE DIARY
Favorite tracks: “Lose Myself,” “The Deepest Part,” “Strangers”
As Erin Fein’s vocals glide and echo through STRANGE DIARY’s spectral canyon of sultry, pulsating depths with command, it’s hard to believe that her divorce served as the basis for this album. There’s a dichotomy between the draining source of her lyricism and the music itself being so full of life. The chase seems futile in “Lose Myself,” as Fein yearns, “I wanna go farther, I lose myself,” but by its end, with the culmination of skittering synths and a faster rhythm, it’s apparent the “chase” was all she ever cared about. And here appears a main theme of STRANGE DIARY: acceptance. Fein knows what’s lost is lost, but she also understands that she’ll be stronger for it. It’s emotional exercise music, to shake out all the worries and just be glad that you went through them. While the ethereal “Chase You” demonstrates Fein at her most persistent (“I’ll chase you down baby, I’m gonna put up a fight”), album closer “The Deepest Part” solidifies her moving on. “Now that I can see that things have changed . . . if you want to get to the deepest part, I’ll let you.” Some might argue that with acceptance comes complacency, but for Fein it only means a rearrangement of priorities, from focusing on the past to focusing on herself. You can listen to it here.
Slow Mass – TREASURE PAINS EP
Favorite tracks: “Portals To Hell,” “Nice But Not Kind,” “Clint Eastwood.”
“The same dark thoughts provide the dark energy,” Dave Collis shouts on the chorus of opener “Dark Dark Energy.” It aptly describes the cruel symbiosis of the mental and physical symptoms of many mood disorders, as well as the subject material and work ethic of Slow Mass themselves. For such explosive music to be made, you need something to be fueling it. Even on songs like “Nice But Not Kind,” where the arrival of Mercedes Webb’s vocals play a sunny foil to Collis’s, their lyrics suggest a false security: “With you I’ll never know / how much my fear can grow . . . Our eyes are joy and peace / my mind is full of deceit.” The double vocal presence initially seems to correspond to two partners; however, this is detailing not a relationship of one person and another, but the relationship of one person and their own mind. With depression, the thought of self-destruction is lurking around every corner, relentless in pursuit.
Even with such musical aggression and dour themes, TREASURE PAINS is never overbearing thanks to the prowess of their creators. Webb and Collis produce the perfect bliss point of salty and sweet, helping to elevate them above other post-hardcore acts who lack such a dynamic. And that’s not to discredit the tracks where Webb is not at the foreground; Collis expertly tempers his vocals, navigating the timid respites just as well as the swooning breakdowns.
On their Bandcamp page, it’s noted that “100% of the profits from the Alternate screen-printed variant [of TREASURE PAINS] will go to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.” Alongside this legitimate source of help, Slow Mass’s music offers an accurate manifestation of both the internal and external struggle of mental illness. Present here is a rollercoaster of emotions and sounds, sullen lyricism projected through volatile vocals and instrumentation—quite literally a collection marked by disorder. You can listen to it here.