There are few greater pains than heartbreak. If Someday Is Today, Living Hour‘s third full-length album doesn’t overtly support this claim, then it does so ostensibly–through its reminiscing moods. The Manitoba quartet captures grief with sluggish tempos, minor key chord progressions, and numbing moments of disassociation. Be warned. If you’re feeling even the slightest bit depressed, Someday Is Today may exacerbate it, swallowing you deeper in a quicksand of melancholy. But if this is one possible consequence of the record, an album that rewards just as much as it punishes, Living Hour prove that it’s well worth the risk.
Living Hour have been refining its shoegaze and slowcore sound since their 2016 self-titled debut, following it with 2019’s more polished Softer Faces. For Someday Is Today, the group–Sam Sarty, Gilad Carrol, Adam Soloqay, and Brett Ticzon–receives contributions from three producers with solid track records–Melin Duterte (Jay Som, Chastity Belt), Jonathan Schenke (Parquet Courts, Snail Mail), and Samur Khouja (Cate le Bon, Regina Spektor). Remarkably balanced by other less-than-ideal conditions, Living Hour solidify their sound with an even shinier sheen. The album was recorded in a mere week while bracing a brutal Manitoba winter with temperatures dropping below zero. Despite these circumstances, Living Hour discover the best version of themselves, making improvements where it matters.
Most notably, the audio quality on Someday Is Today far surpasses their previous efforts. The clearer audio quality and evenly mixed tracking make their effort much more digestible. Their songwriting is elevated as the arrangements have become more thoughtful and active, doing wonders to bring out the power of subtlety and understatement. The lyrics, too, which come through more audibly, give Someday Is Today new colorful imagery that Sarty uses to transport listeners with the tact of a gifted author. All around, the album presents itself as the group’s strongest, most mature, and cohesive effort to date.
The opening organ and pre-programmed drum loop of “Hold Me in Your Mind”, authentically pulled from the electric organ presets, immediately sets an encompassing somber tone for the rest of Someday Is Today. When the reverb-washed vocals enter, between the organ and the slow, cheesy percussion track, Living Hour bring to mind prime Beach House, before they began to feel like they were trying too hard. The lyrics evoke a feeling of codependency and a need for someone to be at the receiving end of obsession, while “Lemon and Gin”, a drown-your-sorrows-type of song, feels like trying to fill a void. Sarty seems to be stuck in a tantalizing present: “100 watts in every bulb above my head / Dandruff on each shoulder again / I’m staring at the frozen meat / With the polished floor beneath me looking at each color / They remind me.”
More feelings of missing someone permeate throughout Someday Is Today, but a quarter of the way, Living Hour really begin to glow. The feature with Jay Som, “Feelings Meeting”, is a powerful track with gauzy guitars and measured energy, bringing forth one of the loudest, and subsequently emotional, moments on the record. For the most part, Sarty eludes to missing a person. However, in “Miss Miss Miss”, she instead misses the Palomino club, its sights, smells, and memories.
“December Forever” is another song where Living Hour are at their best. A perfect synth melody connects with plaintive guitar strums. The way the instruments, even the voices, are overlapped and layered gives Someday Is Today a sense of weightlessness, a softness that carries the listener through sticky but glum thoughts. It’s okay to feel these thoughts’ emotions, but it’s important not to become ensnared by them.
Someday Is Today is a profound, powerful, and emotional experience. Depending on which mood you find yourself in–or preparedness–you may end up sinking deeper into feelings of hopelessness and despair. Trust me; I got stuck. Relationships aren’t easy, especially in a modern world, and it’s easy to overanalyze situations and thoughts like Sarty does on “Curve”: “The no-reply, the tired sigh.” She questions her lover. Then she asks herself: “The guilt I feel, is it real?” These moments can be beautiful when you approach them with compassion, especially for yourself. Embrace the feeling; it’s part of being human.