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LEAN YEAR - SIDES VINYL LP (Release date: 09/02/2022)

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LEAN YEAR - SIDES VINYL LP (Release date: 09/02/2022) There is a moment on Sides, the new album from Richmond, Virginia-based duo Lean Year, in which a hospital room floor is filled with white chrysanthemums. This imagery, based on an...

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LEAN YEAR - SIDES VINYL LP (Release date: 09/02/2022)
There is a moment on Sides, the new album from Richmond, Virginia-based duo Lean Year, in which a hospital room floor is filled with white chrysanthemums. This imagery, based on an opiate-induced hallucination experienced by vocalist Emilie Rex's mother as she recovered from surgery, is a perfect encapsulation of the band's second album: dreamlike and beautiful, yet burdened with cold, stark reality. Sides is a harrowing journey through realms of grief and memory, a meditation woven into a tapestry of synth pads, woodwinds, and Rex's instantly recognizable voice. The duo of Rex and Rick Alverson-who also works as a film director (The Mountain, Entertainment, The Comedy)-originally set out to write an album about conflict, but during the writing and recording process, they were confronted with a number of personal tragedies. Alverson lost both of his parents in rapid succession, Rex's mother received a cancer diagnosis, and the couple's beloved family dog, Orca, died. These events transformed the album into an exploration of loss-an attempt at processing the painful, complex, and private emotions that bubble to the surface when confronted with death. "We thought we'd do a concept album called Sides where we could reflect on all of the division in the world, and some in our own families, but then COVID transformed everything/everyone, and we suffered our own specific losses. The record became about loss and grief," Rex explains. "In this way, the title Sides was still appropriate: our individual grief and collective grief, the margins of before and after, the act and feeling of during and enduring. It felt like straddling a threshold between two opposing sides-the moment before conflict and the moment after it passes, life and death, the act of living and the memory of the act. Grief feels like a contention between what you knew and what you now know, and often both feel real and unreal at once. " Sides-produced by Alverson alongside Erik Hall (In Tall Buildings) and featuring contributions from Elliot Bergman (Nomo, Wild Belle) and Joseph Shabason (Destroyer, The War on Drugs)-has a distinctly cinematic quality, perhaps due in part to Alverson's other career. Moments of jazz, slowcore, and dirgelike R&B find their way into the sorrowful, ambient suite, lulling the listener into a state of calm while the lyrics speak of ghosts, childhood, and mortality. Despite the gravity of the subject matter, Sides succeeds in mastering a balancing act between pathos and pop. Each song is indelible and haunting, with melodies that have the kind of broad appeal reminiscent of Karen Dalton, Aldous Harding, and FKA twigs.

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