A A Bondy
4 out of 5
Upon finishing a listen to A. A. Bondy’s third album you might feel a bit disorientated, like waking up from a dream. Like that moment you when you peel open your eyes and there’s an elusive memory of something dreamt which, the harder you try to pinpoint, the more it squirms into a forgotten vapour. Indeed, the Alabama songster has openly spoken of his fascinations with the realm of the reverie and it’s hard not to see this in Believers. You can listen to this album and forget it ever happened, inviting you back time and time again, only to put you back in a blissful state of disquiet.
The album glides like midnight ice-skaters over drifting floes of synthesised organs and slide guitars. Opening song, ‘The Heart is Willing’, has a primitive crack of drums that, along with a meandering guitar lick, seems out of place but if anything sets up the mood of pleasant unease that is maintained throughout the record. The soporific ‘Skull & Bones’, swoons as much as it disturbs as Bondy displays a softness of vocals which haunt to the point of seduction. Later songs, ‘Highway/Fevers’ and ‘The Twist’, layer lashings of cymbals with gothic guitar formations to transform the dreamlike qualities of the record from the subtly apprehensive to the outright nightmarish. The merit of this album lies as much in its hollowness as its substance. It’s stripped down to a bare bones of perfectly crafted soundscapes, painting in music the sublime of the arctic void.
The UK release of this album comes two months after its emergence in the US, which is quite fitting as the icy vices of winter are tightening their grips around our humble isles. But if you’re looking for the musical equivalent of a rich hot chocolate, topped with fluffs of marshmallow and whipped cream, this record isn’t it. What Auguste Arthur Bondy offers instead is a mug of ice-cold rime to complement any winter’s day and strike the most penetrating of chills in your bones. A refreshing change from a country/folk scene which, with its fuzzy facial hair, flannel shirts, and stompy shouts of ‘come on altogether now’, is becoming all too twee, all too huggable. So throw away the scarf, the woolly hats, those adorable little mittens and embrace the frost.