By DAN MACINTOSH
The Choir has always incorporated heartbreak into its music. Examples of grief have ranged from the miscarriage of a child, to the loss of an adult friend. Life is filled with more than its share of despair, and The Choir has never shied away from facing deeply emotional wounds head-on. Bloodshot, however, may be the first time most of a Choir album can best be described as truly heartbreaking.
A trio of songs in the album’s middle section set the project’s overriding sorrowful tone. It begins with “Birds Bewildered,” where romantic partners are described and dizzied birds, better set free than forced to remain caged together. “The loving thing to do is to set each other free,” we’re told, with Sting-like accuracy. Sonically, it’s still lovely though, because of Derri Daugherty’s nervously sweet shoegaze-y electric guitar solo, which is set against a pretty string arrangement. “Only Reasons,” explains how there are never valid excuses for a relationship’s untimely end, only reasons. Most tragically of all, “House of Blues” describes a former “cozy cage” shared as a potential house on fire. “We love each other way much to stay here,” Daugherty sings, then adds, “You know I love you way too much then to die here, with you dear.” This house is no longer a home.
The album closes with “The Time Has Come,” a mournful dirge from a band that’s mastered deathly dirges. Its lyric concerns forgiveness, namely self-forgiveness. “The time has come to realize forgiveness,” we’re told. It continues: “We can’t un-do the damage done/The day is new, here comes the sun.” Eventually, everybody needs to move on. Yes, these are words of hope; they just don’t feel so good in this musical setting.
Not all’s a complete downer, though, as “Magic” is kind of like an update to The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Do You Believe in Magic?” “You believe in magic,” it states emphatically, “So, I believe in magic, too.” In this case, magic is a synonym for hope. Similarly, “We’ve Got the Moon” speaks of how having fun on a moonlit night, and the prospect of a sunny new day puts perspective into a more positive light. The title track (“Bloodshot”), although slow and sad sounding, is in fact a song about a partner’s natural beauty.
All this album’s recurring sadness would be unbearable in lesser artistic hands. Steve Hindalong writes Choir lyrics with quirky clarity and poetic nature references aplenty, which can make even harrowing heartbreak simultaneously artistic and strangely beautiful. The Choir has never been a band afraid to expose the personal details of their lives – even the most uncomfortable ones. Bloodshot is just one more chapter in a growing tome filled with unquestionable sincerity.