With strange but charming aesthetics to a degree, Virginian duo Keep made an effort and released their debut full-length album now in June. Finding them wasn’t difficult, they’ve been featured on VICE before, and their sound is something that sticks out in many ways. We decided to do a track-by-track review of this release, titled “For Your Joy“. It clocks in at around 41 minutes total.
“YHB” is the introductory to this album, a sullen gothically sounding track which suddenly bounce into alternative territories. It has that slow, decimating feeling and nicely crafted harmonics, together with afflicted vocals. At one point it almost lends itself in whole to a sludge-rock, doomy kind of sound – making the atmosphere bigger and more psychedelic the further in you get. The drumming goes from the steady rhythm into a frenzy and then back again as if nothing had happened. It is a downbeat experience throughout but pack a relentless upbeat punch if needed.
Their sound feel like something unique but at the same time pays homage to their influences. It’s weird to realize that it is a duo, because their sound is much greater then just that. “Temporal Drift” pick up and switch into post-punk and goth directly, there’s no time for the lull and slowness of the first song, and here they clearly make use of the beauty in their simple melodies – alluding to the core in their songmaking. When the quick, bleak riffs come and go – they break through in the chorus, blooming into a special kind of song – together with the vocals.
As they drift farther away with their rhythm and melody, they still attain a charismatic sound. The seriousness in their lyrical content shape the soundscape and even though it derives out of the simplicity in short – but emotional vocals – they’re outdrawn and carry one with the atmosphere and the totality of the sound itself. An absolute joyride in terms of uncanny craftsmanship in music. I’m stunned after hearing this song.
“Welcome To” is jumpstarted by “Temporal Drift” as it faded out. What is even more clear in this song is how the baseline and the individual items in the drumset make way for a sinister apocalypse – in the manner of heavily distorted guitars – which take the song to a definitive crescendo. Even if there is only one chorus, it feels like it has multiplied and represents the mix of two songs in one, a harsher part and a gloomier more softer sound that give away another side of them. From here it just gets better, with “Response” – that go from a promising introductory to a complete anthem in just a few seconds. The glaring noise of the synthesizer and more electronically-based soundscape masquerade, adding a theatrical feel and an even bigger sound.
Being the shortest song on the album, one wants it to go on forever. It feels like it could easily turn into something completely ambient, but as it is torn apart by the instrumentation, it hides away what lurks around the corner, taking the listener by surprise as it carries on. When hearing “In Perfect Order“, it just feels like one has found the perfect blend of shoegazy vocals and atmosphere, in a post-punk setting with that ingenuity that helps it be anything but confined within those genres. The vocals are chanted more, giving it a whole other vibe in general. The playfulness they display is obvious in this song – it sounds more like a session turned onto its head and into a very well made final product.
With “Earthly Desired” I am reminded by how RA sounds and how their nordic noir sound is something that stand out on its own. Keep have got that kind of touch in their vocals, especially, in this song. This is as emotional as it can gets and the lyrics stand out on their own here, the ingenious dark melodies are churned out with total attitude. So far, this is one of my favorite songs on the whole release. Damn, these guys really know how to make music and one is still flabbergasted by the fact that it is a duo.
As “Testament” goes off, the more slower side of things return. Here’s the anti-thesis of the last couple of songs. A downer and a shapeshifter, at least. One suddenly feel the urge to bob head side to side. Everything’s so concentrated, the twang in the baseline and the precision of the drumming, the plagued vocals. When you think it is going to sound absolutely the same all the way through, they step their game up and slam on the drums and create a rambunctious setting where nothing is sacred. From this to “My Love” which almost sound industrial to begin with, as they carry on with a distorted basedrum. The vocals being as distorted as they are in some of the parts of the song adds a little rock’n’roll in the middle of everything.
The attention to detail in the atmosphere is remarkable. Everything has been thought out but at the same time, volatile. From this complete predestined setting to an even more industrially sounding track, “Man Made it“, completed with the pure delight of gothically sounding post-punk. This is the good variant of it. Noteable about it is how the lyrics, especially this passage: “Feet don’t touch the ground, ear don’t like the sound“, pass right through and make you feel it by the singer’s emphasis. The reverberated sound of the riffs together with the dark, pounding baseline give the rhythm a whole other dimension – a more sinister one. This song is mysterious, callous in a way – but realistic.
Lastly, “7 Days” is a pure ballad. Not in the traditional sense, but in the sense of how Keep wants it. With it you have more time as a listener to focus on the vocalist and the lyrics. The riffs are absolutely on point in this song – making it one of the more beautiful ones on this release as a whole. Their lyrics are absolutely phenomenal on this song, when combined. It is sad to have listened for this long and then hear how it slowly fades out into nothingness. I’d like to thank Keep for delivering such a solid record, one of my favorites of 2017 so far. Thank you.
Check out their earlier releases first, but if you want to you can start as we did, with their latest one: “For Your Joy“. You can listen to it in whole down below.