Back in 2013, Chicago-based post-punk act Disappears — founding member Brian Case (vocals, guitar) along with Noah Leger (drums), Jonathan van Herirk (guitar) and Damon Carruesco (bass) — released two related yet very different efforts that are among some of my favorite albums — the atmospheric and tempestuous Kone EP and the tense, raging Era.
In 2017, Carruesco left the band. The remaining members — Case, Lager and van Herrik — eventually decided to continue onward, but under a new name, and new sonic direction and songwriting approach as FACS. With 2018’s full-length debut, Negative Houses, the trio quickly established themselves as a heavy band, although they don’t necessarily feel like one.
Since Negative Houses, the Chicago-based outfit has released three more albums, including 2021’s Present Tense. Each of those albums have seen the members of FACS perfercting their unique brand of intense, catharsis-inducing art rock/post-punk, while pushing their sound and approach in new directions.
The Chicago-based outfit’s fifth album, Still Life In Decay was recorded by Sanford Parker at Electrical Audio Recording and is slated for an April 7, 2023 release through Trouble In Mind Records. Bassist Alianna Kalaba, who took over for founding member Jonathan van Herik after the release of Negative Houses makes her amicable last stand with the group. Alongside Leger, the band’s rhythm section dance and twist around each other like double helix in which collectively they approach rhythm from outside the groove, rather than inside it, creating a lattice in which Case can weave his guitar lines in an around, like creeping vines.
Reportedly, Still Life in Decay is a decidedly focused effort that sees the band at their most solidified. The apocalyptic chaos of that defined their previous album is pushed away in favor of examination with a remarkable clarity — while being a sort of addendum to Present Tense.
Last month, I wrote about Still Life in Decay‘s first single, the uneasy “When You Say.” Built around the propulsive lockstep rhythm between Leger and Kalaba, and Case’s reverb-drenched, guitar slashes, the song sees Case shouting repeated phrases with a desperate agency, as though desperately trying to hold on to something — anything, really. The song’s freeform lyrics touch upon themes of resignation, cynicism, classism and search for identity and meaning in a crumbling society. The song is a primal, forceful meditation on the exposed ugliness, divides and inequities within our world — both pre-pandemic and post pandemic.
“Slogan,” Still Life in Decay‘s second and latest single is a brooding track rooted in shimmering and meditative guitar, a forceful rhythm section paired with Case’s reverb-drenched vocal and a soulful yet buzzing guitar solo. The song narrators meditates on identity and memory — repeating one phrase “I had it in the palm of my hand,” much like a slogan.
Directed by the band’s Brian Case, the lyric video for “Slogan” features the song’s lyrics floating on top of a geometric field.