Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Third Person/Internecine - Rhode Island

Probably the most conceptual of Rhode Island’s albums so far, it personally blows my mind about how well-orchestrated every piece of the music is and how the lyrics and storyline read effortlessly. This is an album that is better played all the way though rather than shuffled and listened to separately.

The EPs, which are intended to complement one another do well one right after the other, reading much like a satisfying movie with a great soundtrack that guides you – something like The Virgin Suicides in a way, but Rhode Island’s own narrative, whether based on a real or imagined story.

There includes lots of talk about Switzerland throughout the two EPs – “I’ll never go back to Switzerland” sings Turner in a stronger, more anguished voice in “Hugh Person” much like he just realized he really never will go back, but always thought that Switzerland would be there and had time to return. The band shares the fact that the album is loosely based on “assisted suicide in Switzerland”, yet the album seems much more in depth and well-thought out than just that alone. It’s more like a reflection on life and death and all the emotions in between.

The first track titled “Internecine” begins the album not unlike the reading of a eulogy, a gentle reflection of life that once was; a somber remembrance, then kicks off with a livelier “Next Exit” – as if you were cutting to a triumphant scene in the aforementioned person’s life.

“In Your Eyes” has a playful melody accented with piano which leads you to believe that it’s a little more light-hearted than what the subject matter really is – about the final moments of life where the people around you are much more scared than you are about looming death and a fear that is recognizable in their faces. “Well it must be scary to know that you’re going to die/but the only thing that scares me baby is there in your eyes…”

The albums wind through an array of emotions – from the jubilance of life, to life’s winter season of pending death, to nostalgia of a life that once was, and the numbness and emptiness of a life suddenly ceasing to exist. Although the emotions aren’t strong enough to move you to tears, the songs pull at your heartstrings as much as to get you thinking about being in these moments whether you actually have been in a similar situation before or not.

“Leukerbad” is a standout track, aptly named after a city in Switzerland. It’s slightly wandering, but never off-track and hymnal at times, starting off with a slow build, then comes to fruition, slowly backing down to almost a glittering quality at the end.

The second and complementary EP, “Internecine”, plays out almost like what the afterlife of the person throughout “The Third Person” might sound like – psychedelic and slightly skewed, yet familiar. “Leukerbad” is reprised and revisits tracks of the same name “Internecine” and “Leukerbad”. These songs are infused more with an artificial quality than any of the tracks in “The Third Person” using synths more frequently and creating fuzzier, distorted layers to the music like perhaps a television on the fritz. Clear memories seep through the distortion and messiness of the so-called “afterlife” – like the tinkling of only a piano playing at the end of “Return to Leukerbad ( pt. 2)”.

The band also pays homage to Mark Linkous, the late singer and multi-instrumentalist of the band Sparklehorse, in the last track of “Internecine” as well as Michael Foot, a British Labour politician and writer.

Rather than it being an album that simply wallows in the misery of death and the process of dying or dwelling on how much time any of us has left on this planet, it leaves you with a renewed sense that the world around you is happening no matter what as well as cyclical, and we’re all a part of it.

Download the EPs as well as previous releases for free at:

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