Written by Lisa Melograno
Salt Lake City Utah-based, Choir Boy, return with their sophomore album, Gathering Swans, today via Dais Records. Four years after their debut album, Passive With Desire, Choir Boy’s synth-pop, post-punk nostalgia is ever-present throughout the album.
Since the first album, frontman Adam Klopp has surrounded himself with a lineup consisting of bassist Chaz Costello, keyboard and Saxophonist Jeff Kleinman, and guitarist Michael Paulson.
The combination of all their influences has further developed Choir Boy’s melancholy wistfulness into the collaboration of 80’s synth-pop mixed with the ominous somberness of a post-punk sound such as the likes of New Order, The Cure, and The Smiths.
As a teen playing in punk bands in Ohio, Klopp’s peers nicknamed him Choir Boy. Although intended as an insult, Klopp took the name for his band, years later after relocating to Salt Lake City. He explained, “It seemed funny to me as sort of a comical reclamation of the mocking title I received from ‘punk’ peers as a teen. While serving as a weird reflection of my childhood and musical heritage.”
It’s no surprise that Gathering Swans portrays vaguely menacing anomie, while the key changes and dynamics of the melodies progress from church like and somber to upbeat. Klopp‘s angelic voice transcends a solemn, yet genuine poetic lyrical touch laced with touches of sarcasm.
“Complainer,“ the lead single is an optimistic approach to self commiseration. Klopp says the song, “marked a shift in lyrical tone from previous releases. While many of our earlier songs serve as flowery lamentations of loss and grief, ‘Complainer’ snarkily examines the self-absorption of sadness. The opening line ‘Oh my life was something I privately uttered while stewing over daily anxieties.’ It became comical to me that I would express my self-pity like that, in earnest when my struggles seemed so relatively tame.”
“Toxic Eye”’s melody combined with Klopp’s mellifluous voice resonates the familiar Choir Boy sound.
“In Nights Like These,” Klopp’s haunting voice speaks of dancing, and as the night falls the stars don’t shine. Soft and mellow he appears to be reaching and holding on although fate seems against him. The chords and beats follow a slow haunting lullaby with no happy ending.
“Sweet Candy” deviates from the rest of the album musically while the tone and lyrics remain consistent.
“‘Sweet Candy’ expresses the sugar cravings and lovesickness of someone who denies themselves the excitement and bliss of romantic fulfillment,” explains Choir Boy frontman, Adam Klopp. “They’ve had a taste, but have opted for a sugar-free diet.”
“Gathering Swans,” the title and final track, is a choral of self-reflection, realization, and hope. “Who am I to be mourning, My simple mysteries unfurled, When I have the privilege to be, Gathering swans for a new world.”
The emotional and prolific lyrics with infectious melodies and energetic beats make Gathering Swans a praiseworthy addition to anyone’s music collection.
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