Friday, December 7, 2012

Something To Keep In The Basement

Nobody likes to see a band break up on the heels of a solid three-year run. But Basement is done. The five friends from Ipswich, Suffolk, played their final show over the last weekend in November.

News of the permanent hiatus surfaced after the band had finished its second studio album and booked a short string of show dates. Plenty of people didn't want to believe it, hanging on until the band changed their bio to read "2009-2012" and then left a goodbye note on Facebook. Their final show in London was filmed and is expected to be released sometime early next year.

What was especially heartbreaking for fans was that the final album, Colourmeinkindness, is still being discovered in the United States. It's a bittersweet win, listening to great music without any promise.

Colourmeinkindness is packed away by Basement.  

Although band members rarely gave details beyond 'personal commitments' as the cause, they knew as much as year ago that they wanted it to end. It wasn't creative differences that did it. It was just life.

"We always knew that we wanted to record another album, even when we knew a year ago that the band wasn't going to last forever," Alex Henery said in one of his last interviews. "Because we knew that stuff like school and job and work and everything. We were never going to be a full-time touring band."

Henery went on to say how difficult it can be as a band, which is why the alternative rock-infused five-piece looked at music as an amazing short-term experience while remaining true to their lives outside of it. Like many upstarts, it's difficult to sustain the lifestyle without nonstop tours. Many bands hide away day jobs inside and out of the industry. Some have other interests too, even if they don't talk about it.

Given the band knew they were going to sunset before they stepped into the studio puts a different twist on the album. Colourmeinkindness is a purposeful record — the kind a band would make if they knew it would be their last album together. It plays very much like their last show did in California.

The ride is over even if the music isn't done yet. While the sound of Basement made always had an air of familiarity, Colourmeinkindness contains a maturity that suggests this album could have been a progression. Sure, there is always a constant reminder that Basement is deeply influenced by grunge (much more than emo or pop punk), but this band always seemed to fill up every second of it. You can hear the fullness clear enough on their last track, Wish.

Although Wish closes the show with something brilliant, start with the openers. Whole sets up the album with some expectant longing inside an alternative rock driver. It's an unquestionably strong opener, even if it's later eclipsed by Spoiled's immediate hook, deep lyrics, and carefully crafted tempo changes.

Between those two is Covet, a melancholy droning about a conflicted and unspoken emotion. There are some obvious Pixies influences, but it's nowhere near the steal some people contest. Basement brings a  richer, deeper, and fuller sound and Covet showcases James Fisher's always emotive vocals with clarity.

The next track, Pine, takes a tempo turn and slows everything down, giving into an alternative rock pop ballad of sorts. Fisher laments about the need to be needed without the commitment of love. It's the honesty in the lyrics and the delivery that make it work, especially on the second play when you know what to expect.

The only real downside with Pine is that it makes Bad Apple and Breathe seem forgettable. While both bridge the space between old influences and contemporaries, neither finds enough lift to stand out on an otherwise addictive album. Control just drifts along as a song without really going anywhere too. It's Black that puts everything back on track before the explicitly short Comfort and aforementioned Wish.

The bottom line is that anyone with an appreciation for alternative rock will want to pick up the album despite that it was put out by a band that opted to go nowhere for now. But then again, you never know. Some people find out that putting away 'childish things' are the same things people try to drag out again a few decades later. Hopefully these guys will learn it before it's too late.

Colourmeinkindness By Basement Hits 7.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

There are a few songs that would break into nines on their own (especially Wish, Spoiled and Covet), but as an album the middle tracks muddled up some otherwise perfect composition. The whole close out thing is kind of a depressing pisser because you can't help but wonder what might have been. And while I can't bring myself to cry over a premature pull out, I do respect the decisions they made because it's much like their music. Honest.

Colourmeinkindness is available at Amazon. You can also download some tracks from iTunes or pick up the CD from Barnes & Noble. It will one day be a rarity or footnote. It's hard to tell, but you'll enjoy it all the same.
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