Nestled within an intersection of the New England indie/punk/emo scenes is Tyler Daniel Bean, a Burlington, VT-based musician who has constructed a full-band, eponymous project. Throughout his fight through depression over the course of the past four years, the 26-year-old Bean was writing poems. He wrote these poems for his master’s degree capstone project, and put them together with his band on On Days Soon to Pass, his second full-length studio album. With a dark lyrical disposition and musical grounding, this record effectively imitates itself in terms of its subject matter, and it does so in a confident manner.
In what Bean terms “heavy indie”, the sound of this record draws upon expansive emo and indie influences. Bean’s raw vocals carry themselves as reflective of the intensely personal subject matter dealt with here. This is complemented by similarly raw backing vocals by Jessica Lynne McDermott, as well as a driving force in violin by Shannon Stott-Rigsbee. The latter element differentiates the songs from other similarly dark and dense emo bands, with the violin taking on an unusually prominent role in most of the songs. It inspires a tide behind the expansive nature behind the tracks here, serving as a guiding element that takes these songs beyond a simple foundation.
The title track digs into these elements in a well-rounded manner. A driving violin takes the place of what could be a prominent guitar lead, with the guitar taking on the role of an additional accent. There is a solid foundation of physical and emotional coldness, as Bean sings that he “can’t even feel [his] bones” when he is alone, and has “given up all hope / of coming home / before the snow begins again.” Beginning with a solemn sense of mourning and solitude, the track evolves to take on a more cathartic musical disposition. The guitar takes on a more empowering role alongside the violin as the song’s tempo ticks up into something more emotionally unleashing as opposed to insular.
Instead of writing long sentences, Bean’s lyrics tailor to shorter bursts of reflection. His vocal inflection reflects a sense of urgency or introspection at any given time. On “Willow I”, Bean’s vocals begin mumbled, quietly talking about how he wishes to get rid of “our house / the garden / my body.” These vocals are buried beneath a complex percussive pattern, driving guitar crashes, bass strums, and light violin plucks. His mumbles shift to more prominent, broken strains, singing that he wants to lie “on the floor / on the grass / on my back” and “be where you are.” The second part of this song, “Willow II”, is less claustrophobic, where his vocals and those backing him are much more prominent behind a more open musical arrangement. He mourns the loss of a dog, Willow, in what culminates with a cathartic outro that lets loose on all fronts instrumentally.
Rooted in a consistent ere of loneliness and battling between life and death, On Days Soon to Pass builds upon a set of songwriting foundations to explore various rungs of these emotions. On tracks like “Loon Lake”, powerful gang vocals and emo-rooted musical catharsis serve as a climax that is the culmination of these mounting pieces coming together throughout the track. “When I Think Too Much” follows a similar sort of pattern, but the pieces take more time in putting themselves together. The track spends more time placing emphasis on Bean and McDermott’s vocal harmonies and Stott-Rigsbee’s violin at any given time, before a minute-long coda that lets everything go.
“FFFA” shows shades of songwriting exploring Midwestern emo vibes within the scope of The Forecast. While giving off the impression of being more upbeat than the rest of the record, Bean sings about a sort of loneliness that causes him to question “what the hell [he is] doing here.” There is a sense of keeping things to oneself, learning to cope with people coming and going. “I’d rather let / the weights / weigh me down / than let it out,” he sings, questioning whether it is better to continue pushing or just stop altogether. His loneliness is rooted in something romantic, but stretches itself beyond that — a particularly personal struggle he wrestles with.
While not fitting neatly under a single categorization of indie, punk, or emo, On Days Soon to Pass is not devoid of biting, genuine emotion. These songs fit similar pieces together and put them into different, distinct arrangements from song to song, with lyrics that tread between the abstract and straightforward. The construction of these songs feed from the poems with a level of intention that is quite visible throughout. Tyler Daniel Bean manages to refine his abilities on a record that comes from a place of deep personal strife, something that requires a sense of maturity and cunning to do well. There is a certain density to writing about loneliness and suicide, and these songs tackle it with a sense of purpose.
Indie Rock/Emo | Skeletal Lightning/Tor Johnson Records