Since the dawn of time, we have wrestled with the human condition that plagues us all, the feeling of abandonment. A feeling both empty and shrouded, longing and yearning for what we can’t have, that can often only be expressed in the form of music. This album, the EP Abandoned Homes by The Aesthetic, quite impressively (and in five tracks) encapsulates much of that philosophy as vocalist Michael Neil wails in the opening track, “Ten Thousand Screens,” following a lone guitar riff with the drums pounding in – “Sitting here, I feel so alone. I try to keep my head up high.”
The Aesthetic formed in January of last year, and is one of a wave of bands from the Pacific Northwest alternative rock scene. Vocalist Michael and producer Zac from the heart of the band, and together have created this debut EP. In Abandoned Homes, a big loud sound takes over the delicate and subtle nature of the themes of this album (the narrative of a broken home). The vocals and the guitar burst out of the speakers with real impact as they play around with the quiet and loud dynamic.
“Full Circle,” in particular, has a clean, almost epic sound that simply works. “Just let me go, just let me fade away,” Michael sings, as the guitar slows down, before it hits you with layered vocals and a powerful melody. However the production does not cover any of the subtleties up, and you feel that the band means what they are recording. This could be recorded in a shed on a four track in one take and you would still feel what they are expressing with the instruments and vocals. Whether it is a twisting feeling in your chest or a sense of desolation, the important thing is that you felt it. And they conveyed it.
The sound of “Harlot’s Mouth,” which is a departure from the other four tracks here, has a very polished melody , and is the most rhythmic of the songs on this recording. It’s an instant highlight, and a strong indication of where the band could head if they focused on making accessible, almost radio-friendly melodies (it was certainly the most accessible song upon first listen). There’s a pop sensibility here, but at the same, it remains emotionally motivating. The guitar and drums play in unison, and the shouting backing vocals drive the song beautifully. The second track almost becomes a breather for the harrowing tracks that follow.
Every song here has an excellent composition, and every composition has a memorable line or a guitar part that plays around with the soft and hard dynamic. You will, as a listener, have to leave your cynicism at the door when you enter this house, though. By this I mean that it can be difficult to do so, especially when you listen to artists that attempt to emulate the alternative rock sound, but The Aesthetic does something here- I can’t help but go with the feeling that runs through me each time I’ve listened to this EP, and it’s a very fine feeling.