Like the suburbs these songs sound born from, Acne/Ears sprawls outward, but in the end the record keeps its shape while offering surprising turns throughout.
For Bruce Springsteen, even his isolation was universal. We were all lost in the flood. We were all growin' up. But if Springsteen had been more of an introvert, he might have written something as achingly alone yet triumphant as the title track from Roadside Graves' new record. The band's sprawling, great new album gets set up perfectly, as one lonely, echoing guitar behind John Gleason's creaking vocals about a lonesome kid holed up in his bedroom. There is a larger scope here, as if that kid finds a suburbia full of other holed-up kids, but it's when they get together, when they are just "boys in basements making noise" that the song erupts into rollicking, full-band joy. We see much of the louder joy and frustration of this record rise out of solitary quiet. On string-laden "Endangered", Gleason calls for help because he's in danger "just like the fish in the sea." On Acne/Ears, trouble isn't really a change in the program but more like the same come down. Sometimes, on the heartbreaking loss of "The Whole Night", it's too much to bear. Other times, on "Gospel Radio" for instance, it's the music that makes it all bearable, that can turn pain and closed bedroom doors into wide open spaces of sound, into release. Like the suburbs these songs sound born from, Acne/Ears sprawls outward, in a few small moments almost too far, but in the end the record keeps its shape while offering surprising turns throughout. For Roadside Graves, it's not about escaping the pain, it's about making something bigger than it.