epilogue vol 1

Bellows - Next of Kin Cassette Tape

$8.00

There is an immediate and palpable sense of joy that jumps out from Next of Kin, the fifth full-length album from bedroom recording project Bellows. But the record is steeped equally in loss: loss of family, beloved dogs, friendships, romantic love, and most of all loss of selfhood. Backwardly inspired by the wealth of loss, Next of Kin sees songwriter Oliver Kalb discovering a renewed sense of appreciation for life in the face of hardship, freshly emboldened to move through the world with a loosened grip on life: “I’m not its master, I give up the fight, I want no claim”, Kalb writes in “Death of Dog”.

 

While foundationally a rock album, Next of Kin has a magical iridescence. Oscillating and shifting dramatically between sounds and genres over its fourteen song tracklist, the album glistens with sheens of alt-country, pristine pop production, and richly layered rock maximalism. The first Bellows album to feature a constant full-band presence bolstering Kalb’s home recordings, the album channels the immediacy and intensity of the band’s live performances. Songs like “McNally Jackson” and “Dawn at Central Park” marry Kalb’s penchant for contemplative, almost literary narration with lavish, kinetic composition. But it’s Next of Kin’s climax “Thumb in the Dam” that is the album’s thematic centerpiece: as Kalb realizes he’s lost a sense of his own selfhood in a deeply enmeshed romance, crossing and confusing identities with a lost love, the album ends with a recognition of identity as perpetually in flux, with change itself being the only constant force.


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