|The Side Project
A Comfortable Struggle
by J. Doodle Lipscomb
The album starts out in a very dark and lonely depressing state with the beautiful “Quarter,” “Girl Fight,” and “Hold on, Hang on,” that will each be indefinitely on repeat sometime while you’re listening to the album. This intensity builds up to the unusually upbeat “Travel On” that lends a different, more cynical tone to the album with the acoustic guitar’s choppy staccato, much like “Headline” on the band's first album.
The climax (or downfall, if relating to the album as a journey) is “Neurosis,” an accurate theme song, dealing with depression and anxiety while it best exhibits the dark, spooky minor-scale feel that the Side Project have become known for, musically. This creates an absurd void within the orchestrated, but stripped down, sound that makes you feel like you are completely alone, just as you may feel in a real-life depression. However, the sudden changes in pronoun directions gives the reverse effect as if you are actually not alone. A close friend is sharing similar symptoms. Preceeding this track is “Tell Me When,” which details the memories thought of during the neurosis of that distant person noted above, and following that is the instrumental “Interlude II” that allows enough time for you to breathe and feel your way through the darkness as you make your way out of this beautiful mess.
The polished, but raw “Neurosis” sets itself apart from the other songs as the musical influence of the band switches from Zero 7 to Nightwish, and I wonder if this could be a new direction for the group. But that songwriting actually represents more of the haunting sound of their previous Fourteen that they are trying to leave behind, so instead the new musical direction comes from mixing the darkness with a clever vibrancy such as on “Pearls to Swine” and “Affirmation.” And eventually, this darkness just completely evaporates into optimism on the last, honest love song, “Stand By,” as if the record just finished off a year of your life leaving you with both feelings of fulfillment and resentment toward the past leading to your hope for the future.
More on The Side Project: www.myspace.com/thesideproject.