I’ve been living in my head. Grinding out that commute becomes such a mind-numbing experience of road rage and, well, road rage. I’m looking at you Staten Island, you wasteland of endless lane repairs, spray tans, and fist pumps. I’ve been trying to sort through different pieces of my past, and I’ve been down a few rabbit holes on the summers of the mid 80s, essentialiy my high school years. They aren’t exactly stories I’d tell here but cue up a John Hughes montage! And this all happens to sync up very nicely with Bloom & Breathe. gates. I’ve sung their praises here before. Super fan. Fan boy. Whatever you want to call it, they’ve been on an infinite loop for the last two years, no matter what the weather or John Hughes movie. We open with the instrumental "Everything That Has Been." It just sort of happens, bleeding into "Bloom," and it changes from subtle to intense in the blink of an eye. I’m still rolling through memories of the summer of 1986, and the first notions of a summer love where there is no promise of forever. "Persist In Delusion" hits home perfectly right at this moment. We sing along to “everything you love falls apart." Ah, the memories are just as intense as this LP. The video for "Not My Blood" is terrific; and this, for now, is still my jam. The first three songs build to this in what I am thinking of as the first act. And now we breathe with "Light The Next Page" and begin the climb again to "That Thing That Would Save You." I can see the band now, backlit, slowly bringing us back and then letting us down gently right into "Nothing You’ll Miss." Harmonies abound as we fade into the pounding drums of "At Last The Loneliest," which is becoming my second goto track. At about the 4 minute mark, I start wanting to flip furniture as we’ve ramped the intensity up to 11. "Born Dead" is a straight up rocker and a return to the gang vocals: “longing to feel alive." We’ve ended this section in complete despair as we prepare for Act Three. We return to the delicate with "Marrow" driving home the central theme of Bloom & Breathe using just voice and acoustic guitar: “All I need is everything I’ll never be.” Haunting. "Low" is the second tune released in advance of the LP, and it's solid. We continue our downward path. Again, "At The Beginning" hits all of my favorite parts of gates -- the layers of guitars and vocals, the rises and falls, the intensity. They’re all here as we drift into "Everything That WIll Always Be," the bookend instrumental that closes out the album. gates have created a truly personal and intense record littered with heartbreak and regret, misunderstanding and frustration, and a sense of rebirth. This rebirth is played out only to suffer the same fate as we churn through the routine that is sometimes, or maybe just is, our lives. As we come into fall, I looked back at a summer that was filled with hope and ended in despair. I’ve wondered before if that person can still see those moments in time or is this just a memory that only lives in my world. It would be easy to reach out for that answer but I don’t think it’s one that I want. I don’t mourn this piece of my past, but I don’t exactly celebrate it either. Maybe I should; but, for now, it’s part of what feels like a secret self. gates’ Bloom & Breathe soundtracked this series of memories, and the timing could not have been more in tune with my time and place. This layered sonic journey with a three guitar attack is, by far, one of my favorite records of the year. Bloom & Breathe is out October 21st on Pure Noise Records.
You've got a chance to see gates on consecutive Thursdays when they come to Asbury Lanes on October 23rd and October 30th.
Bundle up. Fall is upon us.