Album: How to Disappear
Happy New Year! This time of year, for so many, serves as a joyous beacon of positive change—a chance to wipe the slate clean and move into the fresh day, week, month and year with a strong will and carefully crafted intentions. It’s a festive time, one laden with mirth, friends, family and celebration.
Well, I mean, for most people, it is.
For others, not so much. For some, each flick of the calendar page—each new day wrought with eighty-six thousand four-hundred seconds is nothing but a new contract to be signed into the tedious, tepid minutiae of a monotonous life. Each tick of the clock is a clap of the doldrums beckoning them into decay. Each new day is a stake driving them away from their friends, the people they used to love—or who used to love them. For those people, there’s Casey and their long-awaited comeback release, How to Disappear. Blending the finest elements of flannel-touting emo with alternative, post-hardcore and post-rock, How to Disappear is a somber serving of stellar, trance-inducing emotional music that defies conventional genre settings in order to make the listener simply feel.
How to Disappear carefully balances the driving, bouncy candor of post-hardcore or emotional hardcore with the somber, atmospheric musings of post-rock and emo (of the midwestern variety, more than anything else). Songs like the opening cut, “Unique Lights” see a slow, chilling build to a bright, explosive climax. The drums serve as a bold backbone, with a cannon-like bass and bright snare that balance splashy, vibrant cymbals. Other songs, like the catchy and driving “I Was Happy When You Died” and “Bite Through My Tongue” are reminiscent of the band’s previous record, with punchy percussion underscored by strong, robust bass and fuzzy, noisy guitars. These moments—the more energetic and abrasive ones—are far and away the minority, and in many ways, How to Disappear is conventionally the “softest” instrumental work that Casey have issued yet—however, it also stands as the most intricate. Each song is written carefully, with clear, piercing lead guitars framing morose and emotionally honest lyrics; in a similar fashion, the drums are deceptive, sounding rudimentary on a superficial level, but a close listen reveals calculated uses of patterns, fills and cymbals that amplify the tone set by the band’s fretwork. How to Disappear is a gem in this sense, a long-awaited comeback that, instrumentally, doesn’t disappoint in the least.
While the band’s musicianship is nothing to turn up one’s nose at, I’d be lying if I said the band’s defining element are their vocals and lyrics. Once more, How to Disappear takes a more mellow and modest approach—at least where the vocals are concerned—dominated by a soaring singing voice with the sparse and tasteful used of grating, raw screams and shouts. “I Was Happy When You Died” and “Puncture Wounds to Heaven” are beautiful examples of the former—as is “Selah.” “Bite Through My Tongue” serves as a stellar example of the latter, with bitter screams that drive the climax through the listener’s ears and directly into the essence of their being. This incredible and dynamic vocal effort serves, of course, to deliver lyrics that are both somber and beautiful. “Unique Lights” is an excellent example of this (even though when vocalist Tom Weaver says “I need you to know, I’m happier now than I’ve ever been” I’m not sure that I believe him). “I Was Happy When You Died,” a personal favorite (if you couldn’t tell) is another excellent example, but truthfully, it’s nigh impossible to pick one song off of How to Disappear where the lyrics shine over any other. The entire record is an experience led by Weaver’s brutally honest lyrics that, frankly, can be uncomfortable with the emotions they evoke. That’s the cathartic beauty of Casey—the group force introspection and feeling where many others can’t (or won’t).
How to Disappear is a different experience altogether, for Casey and for modern emotional music. While it isn’t the churning, blistering ride that defined the group’s early, hardcore-rooted work—and it isn’t as catchy as their previous record—it shines as their most comprehensive and intuitive release to date. Everything flows beautifully, and feels both raw and natural while feeling careful and intentional. How to Disappear plunges the listener neck deep in an ice-cold tank of love, loss, sickness, death and heartache—and it makes us collectively beg that Casey aren’t thinking of Disappearing again any time soon.
For Fans Of: Holding Absence, Citizen, Balance and Composure
By: Connor Welsh