Album Review: WATERMEDOWN – ‘The Same View With A New Light’

The Same View With A New Light
(Equal Vision Records)

For an act known for their crushing instrumentals and heavy syncopation, imagine how one would feel listening to the opening track “For Everyone’s Sake” on The Same View With A New Light. It’s quiet, but yet it still has the WATERMEDOWN stamp on it: self-disgust in the lyrics that are shouted at the top of Jonny Mays’ voice (“I’m not proud of the person I am, I’m not fond of the way that I’ve been”), a rupturing earthquake from the instrumentals and a knack for bringing every ounce of emotion into the track. It’s emo music that shouts loud to bring a room to a stand still, making sure that everyone is at full attention for Mays’ Equal Vision Records full length debut, and to open their eyes to the haunting world we live in.

The beauty of The Same View With A New Light is the very style of music WATERMEDOWN is known for becomes different within its own presentation. While certain songs are going to gnaw at your ears with visceral angst, others are more reserved and help the record maintain a more natural — albeit quirky — flow. In general comparison, songs like “Search Box” and “Fickle” are sonically radical. They find Mays in a different atmosphere, scrambling to find an outlet that is not so breakneck. “Search Box” is a triumphant use of winning against your broken heart (a charming set of lyrics accompany this concept), with an ambiance pulsing alongside with warmth. It’s also a productive step or Mays, showcasing the different styles that the singer is able to write in. While this is a ballad-esque track with a different audio realization then the standard whiplashes; “Stagnant” has pop sensibilities with a beautifully written vocal melody, recalling “Blend” from earlier on. On these tracks Mays utilizes that incredible range to dance along the changing chord progressions. Even when the song begins to spiral into the hectic beatdowns of syncopated drums and guitars, Mays keeps up with confident composure and saves louder vocal spaces for when its appropriate.

“Dead Things” is a symphonic, electronic song that feels like a journal entry vomited into a praise worthy song (with lyrics about animal products and how often humans are subjected to advertisements). It’s the first real change of pace from the first four tracks, which are far heavier and rock driven. In this sense, The Same View With A New Light dives into the very psyche of WATERMEDOWN and becomes reflective, self aware even. With the varying song structures and changes in pace, there’s a hint of madness in the overall pacing, like Say Anything, Bright Eyes and Dashboard Confessional had a singular love child with the poise ready to take on the world. Even if that very world feels like it is constantly breaking. With that being said, Mays’ music may seem like a bit of an identity crisis, but at the same time, lyrics about breaking down, heavy hearts and calling attention for people to be more aware of themselves is an existential magnifying glass on not only oneself, but the whole world. Mays makes continuous statements about the human condition (like the will to change on “Stagnant”)  that bring life into focus, heavy with the idea that with a different view there is a better path to find.

What’s impressive within this record is how Jonny Mays seems to have taken his heart from his chest; wringing out every emotion before putting it all on display. The record is heavy with self-doubt and the journey to overcome our very selves, and that’s where WATERMEDOWN seem to be victorious. With the right frame of mind, this is a shout of pride from a depressing place we all know too well. The Same View With A New Light might even be your next philosophical argument.

Purchase The Same View With A New Light here.

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