If you’ve been frequenting JOVM over the past three or four months you may recall that I’ve written about the Los Angeles-based quintet Line and Circle. Comprised of Brian J. Cohen (vocals, rhythm guitar), Eric Neujahr (guitar), Jon Engelhard (bass guitar), Brian Egan (keyboards) and Nick Cisik (drums), the quintet originally formed in Ohio before relocating to Southern California. With the release of a batch of singles and their debut EP to critical praise, the band received national attention.
Building on the buzz that they were already receiving, the quintet recorded their debut full-length album Split Figure live to tape in Los Angeles with producer, Lewis Pesacov, who’s known for his work on Best Coast‘s Crazy For You and in Philadelphia with producer Jonathan Low, known for his work with The National. Thematically, the album reportedly explores “the elusive and daunting task of pursuing self-knowledge in a world, where ironically staring into screens and photographing ourselves incessantly has failed to make the process any easier” while sonically pairing those themes with a music that the band has described as “instantaneous and propulsive.” As the band’s frontman Brian J. Cohen explained in press notes, “We are all split down the middle. There is an inner self that reflects what we think are, and an outer self that is how others really perceive us. True self-knowledge is when you become aware of each, and begin to reconcile both into one.” Certainly, such self-awareness and self-knowledge is particularly difficult even in less modern times.
Sonically, as you’ll hear on Split Figure‘s first single “Like A Statue,” the song’s sound clearly draws from early R.E.M. (in particular think of “The One I Love,” “Talk About The Passion” and “So. Central Rain“), The Smiths (think of “This Charming Man” among countless others), and the 4AD Records 80s roster, as shimmering guitars are played through reverb and paired with a tight rhythm led by four-on-the-floor like drumming and plaintive, earnestly sung lyrics. It’s a gorgeous, timeless sound that’s warmly familiar and yet contemporary as the song possesses the sort of brooding and swooning Romanticism that’s reminiscent of 120 Minutes-era MTV.
The recently released music video features grainy VHS footage of a Middle Eastern wedding ceremony, which adds a hauntingly wistful and nostalgic recognition of time and youth rushing by quickly and of relationships coming to uneasy and difficult endings. The video begins with the families of the bride and groom respectively walking with them to the alter and the celebration after the actual ceremony. You can see the pride and seriousness on the families of the bride and groom, the nervousness and joy on the faces of the bride and groom. The footage of the families and the newly married couple dancing are shot in a way that it looks as though they’re dancing to Line and Circle’s music. With quick cuts, the video reveals the band performing the song with the grainy VHS footage projected both onto them and behind them, and it creates a narrative frame split between both a life of nostalgia and a life of facing the present.