BY JONATHAN LEVITT
Fire Records, the UK label that took over from Cherry Red in the reissuing of Bevis Frond Records, now tackles It Just Is, originally released in 1993, which was the year I graduated from college. It was the soundtrack to my directionless existence. It’s not an easy record for me to listen to mostly because it reminds me of how truly untethered I felt after being released into the world without a plan for my own life. I remember picking the CD up at a record store on State Street in Madison Wisconsin, and poring over what little information came with the album. On this album I found Bevis Frond exploring a decidedly more introspective and cynical side of life. Take for instance opener “Can’t Stop Lying” it begins with a blistering guitar solo and then this interesting lyric, “I’ve got a string of young admirers who love every note I play. Got a problem with my woman don’t believe a word I say” This line set the tone of the record for me and I was hooked. “Time Share Heart” is a song realizing the person you care about is actually not that into you. Nick sings “Six senses reeling in anticipation of what’s in store, hopes built on quicksand gradually sinking through the floor”. If it sounds depressing, well it is. The bright spot is a double tracked guitar solo that serves as a counterbalance to the lyrical ballast. It gets bleaker still on the next track “Idiot Dance”, which is one of Nick’s finest songs of that era. Opening with an evolving guitar line, the track gradually builds with the addition of drums and then Nick sings later on in the song, “Everyone knows nobody needs a thesis, everything dies everything falls to pieces”. Dipped in melancholy and leaving little room to catch one’s breath, Nick thankfully chose to follow up “Idiot Dance” with the scathing “Desperate”.
“Desperate” is a gritty, growling, guitar number that provides a nice segue into another hue of emotion that is infused throughout this record which is a cry for a validation of existence. This is a track I’ve always wanted to hear performed live. Later the depressive nature of the record continues with tracks “Day One” and “Terrible Day”. On “Dreamboat Sinking” Nick sings, “Oh she was a blushing bride, drove me to uxoricide” (that’s the murdering of one’s wife), it’s actually quite a rousing rocker that is the perfect balance of muscular riffs, skin smashing and lyrics that let the air out of life from one cutting line to the next.
If there’s a corner that is turned on this record it happens on track 13 “Hit the Lights” where the vibe is probably the most positive on the entire record. Here Nick plays his own worst critic, “Little Nicky Saloman began to learn guitar when he was 7, 33 years on he’s not much cop.”
“Everyday Sunshine” is a shred of bittersweet hope kept alive in the face of life’s constant assault. It’s my favorite song on the album and showcases some brilliant playing all of which is done by Nick himself. But hey if you think this record was going to take the easy way out you’re sadly mistaken because on the final track “And Then” Nick concludes this emotional journey with these uplifting lyrics. “…before we sink back in our chair, wring our hands in deep despair, kiss the wife to clear the air and smile for a while and then we die.” Definitely not for the emotionally weak, this record is best listened to minus any sharp objects nearby. It’s a bruising journey through, sadness and redemption that finds Nick taking emotional stock and pulling no punches along the way.
DOWNLOAD: “Everyday Sunshine”, “Idiot Dance”, “Desperate”, “Dreamboat Sinking”
Go HERE to read Levitt’s recent interview with Nick Saloman.