SWEEPING PROMISES - "GOOD LIVING IS COMING FOR YOU" LP
You might think that following up Sweeping Promises’ first album would be a task understandably insurmountable for most; lightning in a bottle rarely strikes twice. Lucky for us, then, that Sweeping Promises know precisely how to butter their bread and prove their captivating sound was no mere fluke. I don’t think any singular song reaches the highs of Hunger For A Way Out’s title track, but one song does not an album make.
While Good Living... may be the stronger top-to-bottom album in Sweeping Promises’ promising catalogue, those of you who are DJ minded will find more than a few highlight cuts that you could slap on the decks and guaranteed have curious revellers come up and beg to know what you’re spinning (Shadow Me and You Shatter would be my picks if I were fishing for such compliments).
Good Living Is Coming For You wisely goes back to the well for that 4-track sound that did them so much justice on the debut - if anything they’ve probably moved in an even rawer production direction; some kind of Le Tigresque love child in a rotten mood. With such muscular melody and ripped rhythm in your band’s DNA you can afford a lean tone, even if it flies in the face of conventional thought (especially when labels like Sub Pop are sniffing around). It’s precisely that self confidence and gnashed attitude that earns Sweeping Promises the punk badge no matter how sweet their music tastes on the ear’s delicate tongue. And it passes the taste test. I’ve already mentioned Le Tigre, and with that comes a healthy dash of X-Ray Spex, but there are plenty of notes of New Order to be found and probably more than a dash of The Clash. But Lira’s voice is absolutely insane so even when she’s playing droll possum it’s more cathartic sad angel than I ever found the late, great Joe’s to be.
Sweeping Promises established themselves as an essential outfit in 2020 and in 2023 they’ve given us a timely reminder that they know exactly what’s up. Good living is coming for you, fam.
COURTESY DESK: For more than a half century, underground music revolutionaries have taken a whack at the mundane mainstream like a piñata. England punks spat "NO FUTURE'' at germ-free adolescents. Ohio new wavers devolutionized mankind with whips. Athens art school students chomped at hero worship. MetroCard-carrying riot grrrls rebirthed the bomp with a gasoline gut. In 2020, Sweeping Promises read our pandemic minds with Hunger for a Way Out. In 2023, they return with a new message: Good Living Is Coming For You. At first glance, this nouveau wave slogan offers hope wrapped around relief. At first listen, we realize this may actually be a warning. Darker still, a threat. A band famous for their unfussy, monolithic anthems, Sweeping Promises elegantly ravage us again with another future classic. They return as a fist of velvet rose petals roaring inside a compact wrecking ball. Gone is the Boston brutalist ambience of their subterranean concrete laboratory and the revelatory single mic recording technique. In its place, a retired and resplendent nude painting studio in Lawrence, Kansas, bathed in light with high ceilings and hardwood floors. Guided once again by their surrounding architecture, a reverb-rich space remains the defining element at the heart of their highly stylized sound. A watery ghost from the golden age of art-punk now wields sharper knives and more microphones. If the mood of HFAWO was hungry, GLICFY is RAVENOUS. In 2023, appetite is addressed in new ways: Power struggles are aired in “Eraser,” restraints are broken in “You Shatter,” anguished exclamations sting in “Good Living Is Coming for You.” The taboo subject of aging is (s)heroically dragged out into the open. Every line is delivered with such joyous, soaring layers that each punch lands like a chef’s kiss. Sweeping Promises are Lira Mondal and Caufield Schnug. A chance meeting in Arkansas led to a decade of playing in an eclectic assortment of projects together. Their relentless practice made perfect. Bass playing Lira is an emotive bolt of thunderous energy with the iconic blast of a girl group rolled into one robust throat. Caufield is an intentional guitar player and drummer. No note or hit is extraneous. Together they are meticulous sound engineers, using space as a key ingredient to their distinct sound. Controlling every aspect of their craft, from the first note they write together, all the way through to the final mastering process, each record is an unspoiled fingerprint unique to their dynamic chemistry. Written before the pandemic, Hunger for a Way Out was released on Feel It Records in the summer of 2020. These songs drip with the anxious urgency of a commanding live performance yet their gauzy production transports us like the fading memory of a favorite song. This distorted sense of time resonated with thousands of quarantined listeners who turned the album into a life-saving floatation device and most beloved album of the year. This is when Feel It Records (North America) and Sub Pop (everywhere else) joined forces to divide/unite and conquer; beginning with the 2021 single “Pain Without a Touch” and now carrying through to Good Living Is Coming For You. The pandemic went on to trigger an absurd chain of events for Sweeping Promises. Under financial strain, Mondal and Schnug uprooted their lives. They surrendered their studio in Cambridge to take refuge with family in Texas. They completed over 50 demos between their Austin bathroom and a Marfa abode, but feeling unsatisfied, they sought another fresh start. When a disused church in Ohio proved too difficult to rehab, they ultimately found lasting inspiration in Kansas. With their home and studio all under one roof, life is music and music is life. Good Living Is Coming For You ultimately reflects being thrust into a severely unpredictable world. A capsized boat isn’t entirely bad. In fact, it can be the necessary push toward finding solid ground.
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