I suppose there isn’t much that shows the effect of the tooth of time so well like statues exposed to the elements. Although they are usually made from durable materials like marble, bronze or cement, time, wind and weather will tear them down. The same is true for people, of course. Life and time leave their marks. Change is unstoppable.
Weathered Statues is a brand-new project from Denver, Colorado, and Borderlands is their debut album. The band members might very well be referring to themselves with the name of their project. The band photo shows middle aged people who, unquestionably, have experienced their fair share of all the things life has to offer. And that’s exactly what makes them interesting. You know they’ve got something to tell. In addition, all of them are experienced musicians and have participated in other projects with members from bands like Wovenhand and Planes Mistaken for Stars.
The album cover to Borderlands features a stylized image of a landscape during a storm in black and dark blue with grass bowed down by wind and rain pouring from a sky filled with thick, swirling thunder clouds. In the distance of this threatening-looking scenery stand what looks like pillars or standing stones, seemingly connecting heaven and earth, bearing the storm.
Having looked at the cover and the band photo before listening to the album and having read the press info about “songs of mutation, betrayal, dislocation, erosion, and decay,” the music on Borderlands took me somewhat by surprise. I expected something dark, deep, heavy and slow. What I actually heard was a cross between eighties music and post-punk, let’s say Cyndi Lauper or Siouxsie and the Banshees with a post-punk twist. Synth and electronica sounds are pretty dominant in that mixture, just like they are in eighties music, and usually that does not appeal to me. However, I am very fond of post-punk bands like Milemarker, and I also grew up during the eighties, therefore, after a short what-is-that moment, I quickly warmed to the music, and since then have come to really like it.
The album’s lyrics, written by the singer Jennie Mather, a nurse by trade, deal with all the nastiness life has to offer, from betrayals to burials. An Ossuary (9th track), for example, is a bone box in which you place the skeletal remains of a person after the flesh has rotten away in a temporary grave. The very melodic and comparatively fast music creates an unusual, somewhat grotesque and therefore slightly disturbing contrast to the lyrics giving the end product an unexpected stoic character: “Yes, life is awful,” say the lyrics, “But it’s all we’ve got, so let’s deal with it best we can,” says the music.
My favourite track on Borderlands by far is The Silver Cliff. It is dominated by excellent drumming instead of electronica, and although it sounds somewhat metallic I like it a lot. If that’s the direction where the band is going, I’m very much looking forward to hearing more.
Fans of eighties music and post-punk will love this, everybody else should check it out with an open mind, because it’s really good.