SONS - Keep Quiet
Record Label: SloSpeak
Release Date: February 14, 2012
"When the water rose above my knees, I took my flesh and I threw it to the sea / My darling, I'm drowning in disbelief."
It is with these penetrating words that SONS frontman Aaron Newberry kicks off his band's debut album. It is also with these words that I realize I have not adequately prepared myself for the experience that is Keep Quiet. The band known formerly as "Sons of God" have crafted a near-perfect record, one that is at times dismal and brooding, and at others hopeful and resolute. It is an anthem for those who may have felt lost or disillusioned in their faith. It is a call to live life without compromise. It's melodic and haunting. It's a beautiful record, period.
Keep Quiet kicks off with the fast-paced "Masters of the Flattery," propelled by energizing and urgent guitar work while showcasing the drumming chops of Ethan Kattau. Copeland fans will swoon as Newberry's falsetto graces the opening of "Believe In Something," resembling that of Aaron Marsh so closely that it is frequently indistinguishable. It is here that the frontman is able to show off the lighter side of his vocal prowess, just before the track bursts into a chorus of "Aah's" enveloped in an intricate swell of strings and guitar. Newberry's voice seems to glide along each song as he bares his soul with thoughtful lyrics, reflecting on his faith, lamenting the complacent existence of man, and looking ahead as he awaits the beauty of the afterlife. It's all very heavy stuff, and lends to the notion that Keep Quiet is, at times, not exactly the easiest of listens.
For all its many strengths, the record is at its most grandiose during the tracks that begin small and build into something enormous. Such is the case with tracks like the contemplative "Caution" (including a vocal and orchestral performance that would make Deas Vail's Wes Blaylock drool) and the massive closer "Is This A Dry Season Or Agnosticism?" However, it is most clearly evident in "Ghosts," which stands head and shoulders above the rest of the album and is one of the best songs I have heard this year. The tame sort-of-interlude "Sea of Glass" sets the stage for the steadily paced "Doubt," finally culminating in full force within the aforementioned "Ghosts" like a colossal wave crashing against the rocks. What's uncanny is how at times these dark, funereal melodies slide so effortlessly into beautiful choruses that still manage to retain the dissonance of Newberry's pleading words against a backdrop of airy piano and crunching guitar riffs. Without a doubt, Keep Quiet is a behemoth of a record, right up until the last note of the closer fades out.
Really, there's just so much to appreciate about this album, it's difficult to point out one aspect as its defining factor. The intricacy of the musicianship and the poignancy of Newberry's lyrics unite to form what is arguably the best indie rock release of the year (so far). The entire record is a powerhouse of emotion; by the end of this musical journey, I had without a doubt formed a deep connection to Keep Quiet. Not in a long while have I been so excited to see the direction and growth of a band as I am with SONS. Rest assured, this band is one to watch.