Since their debut album Safekeeper two years ago, Comrades has come a long, long way — physically and musically. Known for touring the country in an old-school Volkswagon and logging thousands of miles, the band’s follow up full-length album, Lone/Grey, is a testament to their ability to sharpen the tools in their shed. If you have heard the ambient-leaning Safekeeper, the best parts of that release were expanded upon and polished to create the even greater Lone/Grey. The sophomore release is incredibly balanced, dancing between two primary styles, a Venn Diagram of melodic emotional and heavy grit.
Vocalist and bassist Laura McElroy stays true to her soft, earnest vocals that have clearly been honed over time, reminiscent of Celtic melodies. Alternating with this soothing female vocal presence is the divergent addition of Ben Trussell, whose unclean and gritty, guttural scream adds texture and perspective to the music. However, he periodically unleashes a contemporary voice, a male counterpart to Laura’s soft delivery, for added texture.
Though the vocals are something to be admired, some of the most enjoyable aspects of the album are instrumental moments. This shouldn’t come as a surprise for a band that was previously known for their almost-exclusive instrumental tracks, but it does make it all the more exciting as the band takes more chances with each track, expanding their musical universe. The closing track is a prime example, with Trussell’s drum cadence and guitar work by Joe McElroy that is nothing short of beauty. Looking to other tracks such as “Farewell,” “Synchronous,” and “Underground Queen,” they will also undoubtedly exceed your expectations for sharp instrumental performance. This is especially true from the rhythm section, which is many times the star on this album.
Like any finished work, the end product is only as great as the individual pieces that it is composed of. The adhesive that binds the Lone/Grey together is truly the message that all of it carries. Its significance wouldn’t be enhanced without the story of the human condition as it collides with the living God of Creation. The confusion, frustration, loss, gratefulness, growth, and elation of that experience is chronicled throughout each consecutive song as a narrative of this unequivocal relationship.
With the juxtaposition of grace and ferocity that seems to be their own proprietary blend, Comrades truly did justice in making an album of relationships and reality. The band’s improvement and change from where they started leaves the album with one follow-up: What could possibly be next? As Comrades keeps their identity true to the faith that fuels them, the music that exudes excels, and Comrades’ future seems inevitably bright.