Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Not quite sure where you stand on the subject, but we tend to believe that it takes a generally happy person to make the peppermint-y, slow-churned, occasionally sadcore music that Athens, Georgia, band Venice Is Sinking makes. It would be wrong to think that it would take a horribly mopey or depressed set of people to make music that relies on the subtle changes of mood to build such intriguing iciness or a toughened up version of the twee pop that the city that they live in was practically founded upon not all that long ago, when every third person walking the street was another tortured genius, stewing and dreaming up imaginative verse. The songs on the band's latest, "Sand & Lines," and those on its previous full-length, "Azar," are derivations of years and years of letdowns and personal conflicts - the complexities of trying to get along with other people, even when it's been a real chore - you've learned - since that first day in kindergarten, when everything seemed to be conspiring against you. Those same sorts of tragic relationships and finding that there's absolutely nothing certain about any sorts of good times are abundant no matter how old or young, happy or sad you are, but it might just be that the real understanding of them comes from a vantage point of something other than being resigned to soaking in the depression of it, forever and ever. A video that the band did for its song "Okay" shows the five members wrapped in aluminum foil, firing guns at a shooting range and acting out other silly shenanigans - so we're sure that they don't take these social setbacks too much to heart as events that are just going to break your ass down. "Tugboat," on the latest album, is a song in which we hear singer Daniel Lawson singing that he doesn't want to go to someone's party and that all he wants to do is be that person's tugboat captain and we think all that means is that he'd like to take care of that person, maybe even into very old age. There's a tinge of remorse about a Friday night, it sounds like, or it could be something more specific and personal or it might just be an inconsequential twist of emotions that forced some hormones to be released and some words to be said - an irreplicable combination of events. When Lawson and Karolyn Troupe sing, the words come out as hushed flowerbeds full of a slow-developing, but important dew, and we come upon these plants much later as that moisture is being burned off of those leaves and achingly re-opening petals. We happen upon these songs as they've already dealt with much of the vulnerability that they were going to have to deal with and now, it's the point where there's lightness to be had again, as if the storm's over. They may still want to talk about the storm - as the bad ones are always good for prolonged conversation - but it doesn't mean that those downed branches aren't being buzz-sawed down and carried off and the power has been restored to most of the homes that it was knocked out of. Things are better. People are recovering, or so that's what this seems to sound like.