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Honestly? I was never blown away by Movements like so many others were. I’ve always found their earlier works to be pretty drab; their debut album ‘Feel Something’ (2017) feeling extremely wishy-washy to me. I loved the occasional song from the California-based band (‘Daylily’ and ‘Deadly Dull,’ for instance), but I never “got” them like everyone else did. Nonetheless, when their 2020 sophomore album ‘No Good Left To Give’ peaked the horizon of the inevitable bleak wasteland that this year would always turn into in hindsight, I found myself seriously excited to hear where the band was taking their sound, especially after hearing the magnificent ‘Don’t Give Up Your Ghost.’ Fast forward to now, just days away from the album’s arrival, and yes, I am officially on board the Movements hype train. Choo-choo, motherfuckers.
‘No Good Left To Give’ is a devastatingly bleak and somber glimpse into the mind of the average twenty-something person who’s just trying to make it to next week. It’s no secret that today’s younger generation – a demographic that myself and the other KYS contributors belong too – is a generation plagued with depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness. Almost like multiple generations worth of economic unrest, government cuts to social services, political strife, unfair comparisons to our parents, the death spiral of capitalism, and rampant environmental devastation does a number on young people’s emotional and mental well being. Who’d have thunked it!
With that in mind, ‘No Good Left To Give’ provides the right amount of understanding and empathy for anyone to firmly grab a hold of. Though, this album isn’t some corny, motivational money grab; the kind of lame album that’s contrived to be “inspiring” like so many metalcore or pop-punk releases, where a band can slap a one-liner on the back of their next run of Gildan shirts. Rather, ‘No Good Left To Give’ is an authentic and crushing outpouring of day-to-day emotions and unending stress that looms over vocalist Patrick Miranda like a booming, thunderous black cloud.
Opener ‘In My Blood’ pulls you on a journey through the horrors of losing yourself, becoming detached from others, with Patrick offering lines like “the depths of who I was. The only thing I’ve ever loved is left to gather dust. I’ll keep you in my blood,” sending immediate chills. ‘Living Apology’ speaks about embarrassment of one’s identity and a deep fear of judgement, with heartbreaking lyrics decrying “I’ll skim the in between finding semblances I see for safety. Make sure no one sees, this identity is bound to break me… I’ll make sure you won’t find the rest of me hiding underneath.” ‘Skin To Skin’ speaks on much happier emotions, poetically recounting the memories of days wrapped up in a loved ones’ arms. A romantic song of intimacy (emotional and physical), whose lyrics never once come off as tasteless, childish or like it’s trying too hard.
For me, the true selling point of ‘No Good Left To Give’ is the mesmerizing, rainy instrumentation and musicianship heard all over this thing. ‘In My Blood’ catalyzes with a cloudy haze of reverb soaked guitars and smooth bass licks, showcasing guitarist Ira George’s ability to painstakingly build up a world with the desolate sounds of his six-string. The sexy ‘Skin To Skin’ immediately picks up the pace with a bouncy, stuttering guitar jam and a stunning delay-filled backing synthesizer. Just when things start to feel monotonous, the band always finds a way to draw you back in with something fresh. Like the rockier, heavy intro of ‘Tunnel Vision’, which lays the ground work for the feedback and soft plucks of the subdued verses, and the blistering energy of the emotional, desperate choruses later on.
Movements have found a terrific tug of war between their two distinct sounds on ‘No Good Left To Give,’ knowing exactly when to hit the gas and when to leg go of the reigns a little. Shit, they even throw in some chorus-tinged, shoegaze-y piano passages on the titular track later on in the album, and it’s great!
A true highlight is the stripped back, bare bones nature of ‘Seneca,’ which provides some of the most beautiful yet heartbreaking, moments on the entire full-length. Just as you start to settle into the isolated drums and bass lines of the intro and verses, the band delivers a barrage of mesmerizing cold, droning guitars that stick to you like fucking glue. Musically chilling, the song lyrically speaks of isolation brought about by memory loss, forgetting the times you had with someone you were once close with, wanting nothing but to rekindle that old flame. This may be a very bold statement, but I don’t care: ‘Seneca’ might very well be this band’s best song!
As much as I adore this new Movements record, I did find a couple minute setbacks. Most notably, the album hits a real sleepy lull around the midpoint, with ‘Living Apology’ and ‘Santiago Peak’ coming off as a little boring and repetitive than the songs that sandwich the pair. Luckily, the album picks right back up again with the fantastic ‘Seneca,’ but things noticeably lose their steam.
On top of this, I can’t help but feel that Patrick becomes somewhat buried in the mix during some of the albums bigger, louder dynamics moments. His soaring vocal melodies and beautiful, heartfelt lyricism deserves to be on full display at all times, as its the guiding force of this band’s music. But sometimes his vocals gets muddied by the rest of the arrangements. The choruses of ‘Garden Eyes’ or ‘12 weeks’ specifically come to mind when speaking on this issue.
However, to be fair, if these are the only criticisms I can attribute to Movements latest release, then they’re doing many things well. Because as it turns out, they have plenty of good left to give here.
Despite the couple of tiny gripes I have with ‘No Good Left To Give,’ this second LP easily makes for Movements’ best effort to date, in my eyes. This album immerses you in a dark, somber musical world, with a crushing atmosphere that seldom lets up. Devastating and ferociously bleak, but in a good way. Each of the four members finds their own way to stand out, thus making for cohesive, fiercely memorable listen that ingrains itself into your head long after the final moments of ‘Love Took The Last Of It’ ring out. Hauntingly relatable, the personable themes of intimacy and the conversational mental health concepts behind ‘No Good Left To Give’ are expressed in a multitude of poetic, beautiful ways. Tragically, there’s a little piece of us all in Movements latest.
In My Blood
Skin To Skin
Don’t Give Up Your Ghost
No Good Left To Give
Love Took The Last Of It
‘No Good Left To Give’ is out Friday, September 18th: