TOLEDO: Review of the album ‘How it ends’

TOLEDO: Review of the album ‘How it ends’

What are you supposed to do with bad feelings? You can’t just sit there feeling them, that’s obviously ruled out. You can’t exercise, travel, or drink them, because they’ll still be there waiting to bring you down once you get tired, come home, or sober up. And you can’t share them and bring someone else down, that’s out too, unless you’re lucky enough to have family, friends, a partner, a therapist, someone willing to shoulder some of the load alongside you. Even then, you’re still part of this makeshift vessel for emotion, holding a corrosive substance until… what? Does it evaporate? Does it become neutral in some way, like an acid by a base? Does it burn through you?

There is another option, the one TOLEDO, Toledo’s Dan Álvarez and Brooklyn’s Jordan Dunn-Pilz chose on their debut album. You start by sharing your pain with that special someone, but then you build a container for it together. You take all the sadness and anger out of yourself and turn it into something like a song. For example, “L-Train,” the first close friends Álvarez and Dunn-Pilz wrote for How it ends: Against a beautiful, atmospheric backdrop of acoustic fingerpicking, harmonica, strings and chimes, the duo recall a late-night New York City subway misadventure (“I never miss my train, but I was drunk” ) when they felt lost on multiple levels. harmonizing through the memories as if they were being fished out of a single mind. “Luckily I went home around 5 / and cried,” they sing, the clipped lyrics leaving more room for that feeling of loneliness and defeat. But here, too, there is a longing for better days, and a courage to fight to move on: “I don’t want to do this anymore/I want to get to know myself better.”

In this song, and most of How it endsTOLEDO channel their emotions through a sound that has taken them time (and two EPs, 2019’s hot stuff and 2021 love riders) find. Dunn-Pilz has called it “Guster meets Duster”, while Álvarez cites the Indigo Girls as the band’s main influence. His music has been compared by many to Wild Pink’s amalgamation of pop, rock and folk (including Wild Pink’s own John Ross), though his smooth, melodic sound and seamless creative chemistry are more reminiscent of his Grand Record label mates. Jury Music, Hovvdy. They’ve collaborated (both on this album and elsewhere) with Jay Som’s Melina Duterte, whose diaphanous guitar-pop presence is felt. It’s not exactly lo-fi, but it has a natural touch, with aural imperfections (such as studio chatter, countdowns, and, at one point, the sound of a Twitch stream) built in, as if to bridge the gap between the duo and their listeners. . Where on their EPs, TOLEDO was more of a tug-of-war between the two singer-songwriters, they move in unison on How it ends, writing and singing each song together from beginning to end. Álvarez and Dunn-Pilz are more than the sum of their parts, building a beautiful, if imperfect, container for the pains of not just a drunken night on the L-Train, but a lifetime, or two.

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It can be difficult to unravel the duo’s intertwined experiences, which seems to be precisely the point. When TOLEDO sings about childhood abandonment issues in the opening theme “Soda Can,” an old friend mired in self-pity in “Hideout,” a lazy drunken father in “Flake,” or the belief that romantic relationships cause more pain of what they are worth. on the Duterte-produced title track, there’s no point in wondering which band member those thoughts belong to: they belong to your, regardless of whether it can be related. Much of How it ends revolves around Álvarez and Dunn-Pilz’s troubled upbringing, and the ways their parents’ broken ties have shaped their own lives. Feelings of rejection, inadequacy, and hurt pride resurface again and again: the cycle of pain of wanting someone else’s approval, taking steps to get it, and not getting it is played out on tracks like “Boxcutter,” where TOLEDO presses the hook of “Was I Enough?” as far as possible until the song switches to a solemn piano finale. The songwriters are caught in a conflict between indulging in the self-pity they reject on “Hideout” and “L-Train” and taking charge of their own well-being despite how heavy the load may be.Also in “Boxcutter,” they sing, “I’m not going to feel resolved/I’m not going to feel it,” a line that also communicates its inverse: resolution requires confrontation.

Although they would be the first to tell you that healing and growth are not linear, TOLEDO can imbue How it ends with a strong bow, touching the third rail of trauma before moving towards emotional stability. They trace their troubles back to childhood in “Soda Can” and “Boxcutter,” see their depression reflected in them in “Hideout,” acknowledge the agony of overcoming it all in “Keep It Down.” and then go ahead and do exactly that in the album’s middle section, its strongest stretch. For the killer 1-2-3 of “Climber,” “Flake” and “L-Train,” and the dream-folk downshift of “Leopard Skin” (a “song about a hickey,” the band explains in notes of press), TOLEDO make an effort not only to know and love each other better, but also to direct that care and affection towards the outside. Instrumental Shoegaze “Whatever Happened to the Menorah?” it leaves a wordless space for the spiritual while working as a deep, rejuvenating breath after exertion. The incongruously optimistic “Ghosty” knows that your personal story lives on, whether you think the matter is over or not (“I see it again/Now there’s a ghost in the attic”). And the soulful indie-folk closing “Fixing Up the Back Room” charts a better future, with TOLEDO setting its sights not just on the ongoing, incremental effort needed to build a brighter life (“Counting the days / Ladders and crates / Fixing the back room”), but also a love like sugar for that bitter pill: “But William / The night you came / I fell apart / And instead”.

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The emotional progression of the album is pretty well defined; its sonic progression, less. Where most bands would load up their debut record with a handful of their strongest songs, TOLEDO plays the long game, saving their most anthemic vocal hooks and snappy beats for the center of the set list. As “Climber” hits track six, with its bright acoustic strums, bittersweet strings, and breathy vocal harmonies, you may be wondering why the band held back so long, a bite only intensified by “Flake” and “L”. -Train”. ” go on. Still, How it ends it never creeps, even if it can take its time to rise. TOLEDO knows how to inject dynamism into even his most subdued compositions: the acoustic dream-pop of “Keep It Down!” morphs from aerial vocalizations (reminiscent of John Mayer’s “Your Body Is a Wonderland,” to me at least) into a bloated final act that evokes transatlanticism-was Death Cab for Cutie. “Leopard Skin” blends ghostly electric guitar with muffled percussion and mumbled vocals to best suit its focus on minute details of physical touch that add to intimacy; however, once it collapses to the hum of the organ, TOLEDO rebuilds it as a noise-affected rock instrumental. you half expect Ben Bridwell to start singing. The catchy ’90s alt-rock-influenced “Soda Can” also finds a higher gear, as if to put an even braver face on the duo’s insistence that “I’ve never felt dead inside.”

In How it ends, TOLEDO have laid the foundations for a familiar and warm sound, like that special person to whom you can tell your problems. They are working their way to a better place as a band, just like the wounded but healing human beings that populate their songs. They have turned their bad feelings into something good.

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scott russell is Pastemusic editor by and you will come up with something clever later. He’s on Twitter, if you like tweets: @pscottrussell.

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About the Author: Pierre Cohen

A person who has expertise in politics and writes articles to fill his spare time as a hobby.