Twenty-twenty-one may go down as one of the best years for metalcore since 2006 or ’07, and the latest from San Diego’s SeeYouSpaceCowboy (SYSC) is likely the best of the bunch. Brimming with the band’s patented sassiness, sprinkled with some of the best screamo vocals around, and featuring breakdowns that will destroy worlds when we can attend shows without safety protocols, their sophomore album, The Romance of Affliction, out on November 5 via Pure Noise Records, soothes this scene soul. It feels like a reminder of what’s made the band so special so far and enough genuine surprises to hint that the best is still yet to come.
Vocalist Connie Sgarbossa reflects on how the album’s genesis came at an important point for the band.
“Yeah, it was a really interesting time to put this record together because for us as a band, it’s us. We gain and lose members at a rapid pace, but when COVID hit, and we had to readjust, our main songwriter had left the band. Old SpaceCowboy was very much just written by one person in terms of instruments. It wasn’t a group process. But this one, we really wanted to push the idea of a group process, and we brought back [bassist/vocalist] Taylor [Allen], who was the very first guitarist of the band.”
“When we first started the band, it was throwing everything we liked in a blender and just making it work, no matter what,” she adds. “No idea’s too weird; do whatever the fuck you want. It was really just kind of back to the way the band had started. I’m just like, ‘Whatever the fuck you want in the music, that’s what’s going in.’ We wrote 30 songs for this album.”
Sgarbossa is being a bit coy, as this really is the most cohesive and clear-minded the band have ever sounded. It’s like the best parts of the ’00s Myspace-core sound infused with emo, screamo, and indie rock flourishes—or like the best scene albums of 2006 with 100 times more sass.
“Whenever you have this idea of this fucking hodgepodge of everything that you like, it could go really poorly and not work,” Sgarbossa says. “But we crafted something that was cohesive and nice and hit every point we wanted. It really easily could have been the worst thing you’ve ever heard, but somehow, it fucking works.”
The Romance of Affliction finds SYSC in confessional mode, and while it was not an easy record for Sgarbossa, it was the record she needed to get off her chest:
“I didn’t plan to write this record, lyrically. It was supposed to be a more grandiose fucking statement on healing and stuff, but I sat down to write lyrics. I’m like, ‘Well, I’m not really better than I was back when I made Correlations, I’ve just learned to cope.’ So, I changed the focus to thinking about how I’d been in the last two years and all I’d done, and it just turned into this big confession thing. I wanted to focus a lot on how all this shit has affected my love life and stuff like that because I’ve done shitty things, I’ve been an asshole.”
“I kind of wanted this to be a big reflection of how I’ve been,” she continues. “It talks about drugs, talks about mental health, it talks about how I got diagnosed as bipolar within the last year. But yeah, I’ve also been a dick. Having two addicts in love is not fucking glamorous at all. It’s fucking terrible. Yeah, I’ve used people, I’ve used sex as a way to fill voids in my life, to make myself feel whole, but it doesn’t really do shit. I abuse drugs and alcohol to try and do the same thing.”
What I appreciated about this record is it’s still ongoing, but the knowledge that it’s still ongoing is more empowering and powerful, to me at least, as a listener than that sort of transient, “Oh, it’s going to be okay” fairy tale. Sgarbossa agrees:
“That’s something that is very unapologetically me. There is no happy ending for me. I didn’t write these songs and then check myself into rehab. Two weeks after I finished recording the album, I almost died on my couch of an overdose. I had to get Narcan twice. This is not a happy outcome. It’s not a good [vibes] album. There’s no moral to the story, or happy endings, or lessons here. It’s literally, this is just me, and also Tay. This is just our lives. This is the gritty, grimy shit, and shittiness of our lives.”
Watch the video for “The End To A Brief Moment Of Lasting Intimacy” here:
Photo courtesy of SeeYouSpaceCowboy and Krissi Marie