Post : by the editor
There’s a buzzing energy pulsing through Hey, Ily’s Psychokinetic love songs—a wild, yet laser-focused record that draws inspiration from chiptune, power pop, 80s and early 2k punk pop, with moments of thrash metal, jazz and more. After praise from Internet blast and PSUSSSP, there were high expectations for the band’s debut album, and they more than delivered on the occasion, delivering an album of excellent songs that all have an individual impact, but come together as a cohesive and conscious whole. Although not a concept album, psychokinetic love songs is one that is definitely well served listening as a whole, as the band sets the record up to follow a clear arc, with the instrumental tracks marking the way, starting with “Rebooting.”
“Intrusive Thoughts Always” follows “Rebooting”, and was also one of the tracks released early along with “Stress Headache” and “Psychokinetic Love Song”. It kicks off with unbridled energy and a piano line with tropical island vibes, working well as a cue of what to expect from the record, as the track travels through four or five different genres before ending. “Stress Headache” opens with a decidedly 80s guitar riff that immediately conjures up big hair and tight leather (or, if you’re like me, the Adventureland soundtrack). The choir of “I have a headache today / I tried a little advil but it doesn’t work / It’s worse than yesterday / Because the world keeps falling apart” is one of the most pop and immediately catchy on the record, turning the feeling into a fun song. The bridge of “I don’t want to die / or lose my mind / the world is falling apart / my brain is melting” is followed by an extended, killer drum solo from Connor Haman and a perfectly 80s guitar solo happily called into the vocals.
Like “Intrusive Thoughts Always”, “Psychokinetic Love Song” feels like a microcosmic representation of the macrocosm of psychokinetic love songs. There are ferocious riffs under a sweet melodic vocal, earworm chorus, jazzy diversion and math elements, all before things morph into an 80s synth vibe reminiscent of countless movie scenes of protagonists walking through dilapidated cities at night.
“Glass House” is just as eclectic as the three singles, with horns strewn throughout taking center stage for a brief waltz, while the lyrics speak to the self-doubt and stress that seem to hang over the record, with lines like “Why is it so hard to talk? / suddenly all my friends are scaring me / watching all my friends go by / tapping on these glass walls, why can’t you hear me? This is followed by the instrumental “Dreaming”, which works with “Rebooting” and “Shutting Down” as cues for the record, drawing cinematic beauty from the synths. These tracks aren’t just instrumental interludes between songs with lyrics; rather they express the same ideas and themes as the lyrical tunes in a different way, forming a calmer contrast to the more manic songs sandwiched between them and carrying a melodic pattern that creates a guiding line and binds the whole record together. .
“Machine?” carries on the cinematic vibes that pervade so many of these tracks, feeling like the soundtrack to a futuristic nightclub in a sci-fi movie with its light, poppy melody and rhythm. Of course, things don’t stay light forever, and the song explodes before returning to a smoother feel with added lead guitar. Given the song’s themes of wondering if you’re a machine or a human, the sci-fi feeling matches, and the lyrics speak to the feeling of uncertainty that comes from the repetitiveness of increasingly modern life. no longer ruled by capitalism and the digital world, as singer Caleb Haynes wonders “Am I a machine? / are my feelings programmed into me / are destinies binary? / are we copies of copies of copies of copies / what do I feel? / Do I really feel anything? / remind me that I breathe.
Special mention must be given here to “The Tempest”, an absolutely breathtaking classical piano instrumental track. Sometimes breathtakingly beautiful, sometimes disconcertingly demonic, the track seems to form a trilogy with “Machine?” and “Human!”, connecting the two and connecting their themes to create a cohesive story within the overall arc of the record. Starting with the mental torment of uncertainty from the previous track, a little past the two-minute mark, “The Tempest” takes a turn and things start to feel lighter. There seems to be an answer to the question posed in the title of the previous track. Most bands wouldn’t spend so much time on such a diversion on a record, but it’s a track that needs a lot of space, and all you can really do is listen in awe. as you absorb the storm of emotions overflowing the entire record that seems to be pushed back into a sense of clarity at the end of the track.
“Human!” picks things up after “The Tempest”, offering the affirmative answer we arrived at in the instrumental. It starts out as an insanely catchy pop-punk track that could have spent weeks on TRL in the early 2000s, highlighted by the strummed bass under the vocals in the massive verse and chorus of “As long as I’m human / you’ll never be alone / our insides are never born cold / I’ll always be human / you’ll never be alone / nothing’s gonna take that away from us, no.” From this point we get heavier riffs before a hauntingly beautiful choral interlude that explodes into the biggest guitar solo on the record, which is saying a lot considering the game’s activity and melody. Trevin Baker’s lead guitar. psychokinetic love songs.
After “Human!” feeling like the thematic and energetic climax of the record, “Shutting Down” allows for a moment of decompression as low, looming synths slowly build until the song explodes into the pattern of “Rebooting”, this time more triumphant and celebratory – until a brief pause and reversal of the tape that sends us into an almost sacred realm, as the melody passes through what is essentially a chorus of digital bells.
For a record with so many things and drawing from so many different musical wells, it’s impressive the psychokinetic love songs never seems too cluttered (there are times when a bit of clutter is surely intentional) and none of the ideas ever collide in a clashing way. Every member of the band plays out of their heads, but it’s all in the greatest service of the songs and the recording as a whole, and the band knows when to pack tracks with sound and when to step back and allow different elements and members a momentary spotlight, resulting in a compelling and unique record.
psychokinetic love songs was released today on Lonely Ghost Records.
Disappointing / Average / Good / Awesome / Phenomenal
Aaron Eisenrich | @slobboyreject
The Alternative is ad-free and 100% supported by our readers. If you would like to help us produce more content and promote more great new music, please consider donating to our Patreon pagewhich also allows you to receive some nice benefits like free albums and The Alternative products.