Old Gray - An Autobiography
Record Label: Broken World Media
Release Date: March 11, 2013
It’s hard to understand exactly why hearing sad boys screaming into a microphone over the sound of twinkling guitars is so wonderful or perfect, but it really is. Old Gray are one of the best at this particular trade. I fell in love with Old Gray after realizing they didn’t just sound like Merchant Ships; they were a band that hit even harder, they were a band that could soundtrack every thought or emotion. Their EP; Do I Dare Disturb The Universe was unlike anything I’d heard before. Spoken word made way for screaming; poetic lyrics floated over rough guitars entwined with twinkles; it was heavy as hell but still wonderfully melodic. It was music that was heavy and angry but didn’t isolate the listener by trying too hard. Since then, I’ve slavishly followed Old Gray’s career and listened to them get better with every track. Now they’ve come around to releasing their debut album An Autobiography and, as far as I can see, Old Gray are about to get a lot more slavish fans than just me.
An Autobiography is a beautiful album; whilst screaming and howling aren’t typically associated with beautiful music, Old Gray transcend musical stereotypes and create music that is entirely their own and comes straight from the heart. Whether it’s the tired anger of opener “Wolves”, or the frail broken heartedness of “I Still Think About How I Was Last Summer”, this album is entirely submerged in emotion and realness. Boucher’s yelps and screams aren’t tough or macho, they’re desperate and lost; the layers of guitars never seem brutal, they’re as disjointed and pained as the singer’s lyrics. This is a major aspect of Old Gray’s appeal. This isn’t music to bro-down to or blast out of a car window, this is the sound of hearts falling apart and being too tired to live; it’s music to be lonely to. The record is track after track of broken perfection. The aforementioned opener lulls the listener in with calm, monotonous gang vocals repeating over and over what seems to be almost a mission statement for the album; “I’ve been digging a grave/ With the parts of my brain that still work”. Boucher’s strangled yelps juxtapose perfectly with the gang vocals; showing from the opening moments of the album the heavy/soft dynamics that Old Gray so deftly execute throughout the rest of the release.
It’s difficult to choose highlights; every track feels somewhat necessary for the release to be as wonderful as it is. “Coventry”’s one of the more... catchier (if that’s an applicable word for this record) tracks of the release. It feels a little like something from La Dispute’s Wildlife, however it's still distinctly Old Gray. The self hatred and resentment that seeps through the lyrics makes it one of the more intense cuts from the release, but goddammit, it’s special. It’s hard to convey just how much emotion has been put into this record; but lyrics such as “I’ll keep breathing/ But I won’t feel alive” and “I’ll pray for a reason to breathe” are so incredibly powerful when heard through Boucher’s broken delivery. “Emily’s First Communion” is another notable track; its erratic instrumentation and occasional female vocals give it a different vibe to the majority of the album, whilst still maintaining the emotion that makes this band what it is.
The closing two tracks are simply perfect. Leaving behind the anger of the earlier stages of the album; “I Still Think About Who I Was Last Summer” is truly affecting. The discordant straight up vocals, the conversationally accusatory lyrics and the math rock background make it an anthem for the heartbroken and possibly Old Gray’s greatest song to date. The album is rounded off with the epic instrumental of “My Life With You, My Life Without You”. It’s a beautiful, swelling, goosebump inspiring closer that sees Old Gray in the thralls of post-rock and closing out, what I believe to be, the best album that this genre has ever presented us with. I could probably talk about each track on this record with about a thousand words for each; but in one sentence - it’s necessary that everyone reading this listens to this record. If you listen to nothing else this month: Old Gray’s An Autobiography is your best shot.
Someone somewhere will listen this album at 2am and they will cry; because the person they love broke their heart, or because they’re tired or lonely or because their life is rubbish. Someone else will get angry or frustrated, maybe they’ll feel worn down, maybe they’ll feel everything at once, but what can be certain is that this album will make the listener feel something, and to feel something is all we can hope for. Old Gray’s An Autobiography is Infinite Jest’s samizdat or Zampanò’s manuscript in House Of Leaves; it’s a record that is impossible to leave behind and that will take over your listening habits. However, this is the best possible album to fall in love with. This is how music is meant to feel.
hmmm, I think what I liked most was the post rock influence, I'll reserve judgement till I hear the full thing then. when's release? tuesday?
I honestly think it's the closest they've come to perfectly mixing their emo/screamo and post rock influences into their own, relatively unique sound. The last track alone will destroy you on the post-rock front, but I think everyone that's a fan of Old Gray will find something to like about this album.