imadethismistake – Bow and Quiver

imadethismistake - Bow & Quiver Straight up confession: I did not dig imadethismistake when I first heard them. On my first listens Bow and Quiver sounded like folky punk/alt-rock which lacked any of the ingredients necessary to hook me in. Fortunately, because I do this for fun and don’t have to churn through reviews after one or less listens, I persevered, and Bow and Quiver opened up to me. I’m pleased to say it’s a unique, enjoyable, inspiring, clever record.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Folk-punk is not a wholly unfair label to use here; it would be reductive to describe it as just that, though. Post-punk, you could also say. Post-hardcore, despite being a label that has become so expansive as to be almost meaningless, is applicable here, although I admit I mostly use it here because on repeated listens I’ve been struck by how much imadethismistake remind me of The Van Pelt. There’s a similar spirit of experimentation in both bands, and a similar attempt to invest songs with substantive intellectual depth.

imadethismistake focus on more immediate life concerns than the Van Pelt – there’s no ‘Nanzen Kills a Cat’ on offer here – but the points of confluence are striking. The vocals are delivered in such a way that verges on spoken word. There’s a powerful understanding of dynamics at work; knowing when to keep things stripped back, knowing when to kick into a speedier, more aggressive moment, knowing just when to place a moment where the music drops out and deploy an oh-so-urgent whisper. This is carefully, cleverly-constructed music.

There’s an earthy feel to a lot of the lyrics on display: I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a theme of the album, but certainly there’s a lot of imagery concerning flora, growth, seasons and the like. Connective tissue, perhaps, stringing together the album’s various subjects. At the same time, the album does open and close with the same lyric: “its like i’ve been given a three-inch blade to take down a full grown oak; it’s not so much impossible as it is unlikely i’d ever have the follow through to go on.” It will take me more listens to unlock the full depth of meaning buried in this album’s lyrical breadth and depth.

Musically, there’s impressive variation here: beneath the often spoken-word vocals, the music is typically gently played with soothing brass sections, and the occasional upping of tempo and volume for a chorus. At times, though, a pacier number is dropped in, with the midpoint of ‘Rogue Island’ even featuring second vocals that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a 90s Fat Wreck album. Sometimes the accompaniment is soft, gentle and minimalistic; at other times pacier power chords and catchy rhythms are thrown in, such as in ‘Weak Week’ with the spine-tingling lyric “life is about taking risks” appearing just before the song kicks into fifth gear.

You owe it to yourself to give Bow and Quiver a listen; highly recommended.

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