ALBUM REVIEW: The Sonder Bombs - Clothbound

8.5/10

ALBUM REVIEW: The Sonder Bombs - Clothbound

Without hesitation or trepidation, The Sonder Bombs continue making inventive music worthy of much more than passing attention. Enter the band’s new album, Clothbound, slated for release on January 29 via Take This To Heart Records (US) and Big Scary Monsters (UK, EU).

Billed as a DIY band from Cleveland, The Sonder Bombs are Willow Hawks (vocals, ukulele, omnichord), Jimmy Wilkens (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Kevin Cappy (vocals, bass, guitar), and Jer Berkin (drums, percussion).

The band’s name revolves around the noun ‘sonder,’ which is defined as realising that everyone has a story. Coined by John Koenig and appearing in his The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a compendium of words invented to describe emotions we all experience but can’t express because there’s no word for the feeling, sonder, and the name The Sonder Bombs, explode the idea of each person’s existence being the central movement of the cosmos.

In other words, other people do exist, and they have pretty much the same hopes, fears, frustrations, and desire for the love you have – so you need to get over yourself.

The Sonder Bombs began life as a duo in 2016, made up of Willow Hawks and Jimmy Wilkens, followed by adding personnel and releasing their 2018 debut record, MODERN FEMALE ROCKSTAR. Clothbound is their sophomore release and, unlike many sophomore outings, which tend toward mediocrity, tops its predecessor.

Comprising 10-tracks, Clothbound begins with “Papillon,” opening on tinny tones flowing into a measured pop-punk melody topped by Willow’s glossy, vibrato-laced voice. The track’s rhythmic flow reminds of R.E.M., initially, followed by ramping up to brawny pop-punk levels of dynamics.

Speaking subjectively, entry points include “Crying Is Cool,” a song endorsing displays of vulnerability, i.e., crying. Travelling on alt-pop and pop-punk tinctures flavoured with hints of surf-pop, the tune merges Willow’s deliciously evocative tones with doo-wop harmonies. The chorus swells with vibrant pop-punk washes of colouration.

“Vegas BABYYY!!!” blends Go-Go’s-like froth with sophisticated pop-punk teetering on the brink of the visceral, whereas “Scattered” features low-slung folk-rock waves of sound, followed by taking on resonant sonic heft suspended on suffusions of exquisitely gorgeous, dreamy pop-punk.

Amalgamating soft dream-pop textures with surf-pop and pop-punk-lite surface hues, “The One About You” offers sumptuous, creamy vocals backed by retro-savours of gossamer harmonies. “k.” rolls out on gleaming pop-punk eddies, rising and falling on intensifying guitars, followed by injections of metalcore tangs allied with tumultuous rumbles of frenzied muscle amid staggered breakdowns.

Jangly guitars infuse “Play It By Fear” with thick, shimmering floods of pigmentation, riding a propulsive rhythm. At the same time, Willow imbues the lyrics with tight urgency, enveloping the lyrics in nuanced timbres that assume tasty weirs of blooming harmonies.

Clothbound parades The Sonder Bombs’ evolution as a band, delivering stylish pop-punk replete with shifting rhythms and tantalizing sonic splashes, all crowned by the appealing shiny-and-chrome voice of Willow Hawks.

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