Living Hour

A tidal wave – there can be no more accurate description to the sonic personification of what we experienced upon hearing Living Hour’s self-titled debut album. In quick summary, an album far too dense and long (for eight tracks anyway) to deserve a casual sentiment, a heaviness hangs over the album, but it’s met firmly with a band looking to expose cracks to allow in the smallest rays of light. Describing beauty within the intangible can be difficult to elucidate, especially when a darkness clings onto Living Hour so firmly, but if any album is worth such an attempt, it’s this one.

“Summer Smog” sets the tone for all of this with its powerful jangle that immediately wafts you into a bout of nostalgia. Everything is effortlessly free in a way that refuses to rush the beginning of it all. Airy vocals blend in, ever so cautiously finding a firmer footing. It sounds like both the coldest wind cutting into your heart while also channeling the warmth of fire from under the covers with the ghosts of love present (or more than likely past). Guitar strings are attached to your tear ducts in celebration of the here and now. These are chords that linger throughout the album, even on the coolly contemplative track “Seagull.” Here, the very fitting tide of the sea is on display in a metaphorical manner that captures the quiescent nature of the ebbs and flows of the music perfectly. Hollowness of the verses become filled in. This is what seeing a skyscraper sized mural being painted must feel like, and the drums hit like forceful waves on the highest of rocks, maintaining the track’s heights until the bitter end.

A central piece to so many songs throughout Living Hour is how, in spite of the distinctive qualities to them, they seem to sprawl and unfurl themselves before you. “This is the Place” is as graceful as it is dour – celestial with stars that are dark blue and shine through shadows. “Your silence is a deep dark roar” puts the suffering induced by lack of communication on the table while the band flirts with blues and psychedelic rock. You can feel the weight piling up with each bass note. But when “Steady Glazed Eyes” hits, we immediately noticed something else – everything seems to bleed right into each other, one mountainous narrative that keeps moving forward. The aforementioned track is a deep dream state with a main figure walking slowly towards the camera as the background fades. It’s a lucid moment, albeit a trippy one, where you wake up with the sun beating down on you.

As you can infer from the title, “There is no Substance Between” deals squarely with a lack of substance and the misery that lies within the void. There’s a rift where a rhythm section really drags you down to the dark places as you attempt to claw towards something better. An induced state seems impenetrable and nearly impossible to shake, but the guitars shine a light from their heads to point you towards safety. Now, if you imagine the slowest, most methodical sunrise imaginable, that’s “Mind Goodbyes.” It seems like being in a deep forest, so it takes a while for the sun to get to you. Then, you take one step to get out but find everything moves with you, so you’re constantly in the middle with no escape.

With “Miss Emerald Green,” Living Hour feel like they’re trapped in an echo chamber, just screaming to burst out. Finally all impediments crumble. While the task is difficult, you attempt to tell if these are inklings of joy or sorrow thrusting forth, but the mood changes in a snap. After repeating, “It’s been so long,” all of the pent up turmoil explodes – maybe that’s what shattered the glass in the first place on a song that comes across as narratively nonsequential. The silence returns though, and “Feel Shy” is standing in the presence of it looking out on the expanse of it all. Minimalist in a way that stretches into the void where you can see it clearly fading off as far as the eye allows, everything disappears on the final track, leaving the voice stranded.

Like we said, any attempt at describing it all is challenging, but the album has lingered deeply with us. You can (and really should) get the record from the Lefse Records store now. Joey Smith