(Photo credit: Emily Dubin)

We can’t even begin to fathom the courage it takes to lay everything out the way Cayetana’s New Kind of Normal does. The album, which is available now on the band’s self-operated Plum Records, battles self-sabotage, struggles with mental health, and attempts to take on, well, a new kind of normal. It’s laid out before the listener, nothing held back in a public display of therapeutic discourse.

With a song-title that carries an enormous existential weight in four words, “Am I Dead Yet?” opens the album. The trio park outside and bust into the door without even knocking. Then you’re met with the difficulty of admitting when something is wrong and the heaviness of having those feelings swallowed up inside. It’s raw, open, and honest about the message that is the central focus of the album all within the first verse of the album.

“Mesa” follows, which we have discussed before, but within the full context of the struggle to overcome destructive behavior, the desire to reach some kind of balance is so much more meaningful and understandable.

A fallout brought about by the bass and drums of Allegra Anka and Kelly Olsen welcomes in “Too Old for This.” There’s a dragging malaise that’s fighting to barely hang on at this point, but there’s still some fight left. Capturing a very In Utero aesthetic, “Bus Ticket” takes hold and begins to change things up. Lyrically, you hear this bottoming out, but with the darkest of moments comes a glowing, intense, and blinding hot energy of inner strength. Realization comes with a snap once the surrounding of the basement is seen. And god is it visceral.

Mellower, a crisper disposition comes with this new found pursuit of seeking a stronger self and understanding that, even though things may appear off-kilter, it’s leveling out in its own way. “Easy to Love” sees a past love move on to someone else, and you hear in Augusta Koch’s voice and words that she gets it, and maybe it’s the best for all involved – whether this is the case or not is something completely different. This then leads to “Side Sleepers,” which isn’t necessarily a reset, but a foggy-headed hangover hovers over the track. It’s cloudy as it wakes up from these new revelations, and the circle of fighting against the undertow starts to form again. Musically, you can hear the excruciating difficulty of coming down from a sense of excitement and dealing with the reality that the road ahead is long. You’ll be hard-pressed to find this dread captured as strongly elsewhere as it is here.

Shaking the ground on “Certain for Miles,” the deepness of the drums and the rumbling of the bass are inescapable. It’s a jostling that brings forth blossoming and a bit of life. Or, at the very least, the frost starts to melt. Standing on the porch, they’re ready to face whatever may be ahead with a bit of a tremble, but a gathered confidence as well.  You hear “Phonics Failed Me,” and you have to wonder if past moments are finally being let go and dealt with. And, more importantly, if it’s okay to do just that.

(Photo credit: Jess Flynn)

A sonic and mood shift continues with indie rock tremors on “Grumpy’s,” a track that we guarantee will have you dancing your ass off. Like, you’re really going to let it out. And you’re not going to feel a moment of regret or shame wherever you choose to dance. It’s also the type of track where you want to stand up and scream at the top of your lungs in order to let it all out. The unreliable nature of friends takes center stage, which makes the other problems a bit weightier, but damn if you don’t feel the pep.

On the post-wave change of pace on “Follow, connections and friendships and how these have morphed into something else is analyzed. Who’s changing the situations? Is it such a bad thing? Why is it a bad thing if so; why isn’t it so bad if so? Then, if “Side Sleepers” felt like coming out of a haze, then “Dust” is being stuck in the dream state while you’re in a chamber of sorts and trying to break out. You attempt to break the glass, but the water makes it difficult to move and impossible to project your voice. “Remember the good things that have happened” serves as a mantra to re-center, a calming meditation desperately fighting against negativity.

Album closer “World” is somber and sober. They’re pulling so hard to shake off this past and burden, but there’s still something exhausting that remains. It can’t be shaken – but maybe that’s the point of it all. Sometimes you have to learn how to live with these things knowing full well they’ll always be there. “The world is mine, and I forget that all the time” are the last words before sounds from a busy window close things out. There’s life on the outside. It’s just a matter of how we face it.

Again – New Kind of Normal is available on Cayetana’s amazing DIY label Plum Records. Get it now.