His new album, Goodbye Patterns, is a bit of a departure, in regards to the subjects the songs cover. For this one, he decided to write about the supernatural and the strange, rather than write about his own experiences. Yet these topics lend themselves, as does all good science fiction, to saying something about our more routine existence, our natural lives. Joining Darryl Kissick on this release are Avery Kissick on drums and percussion, and Andrea Hedlund on violin and vocals.
The album opens with “In Denial,” which takes time to develop a certain mood before the vocals come in. Yet it is a rather short song. “In denial/Break the cycle.” When the vocal part is over, so is the song. So this track functions as sort of an introduction. It’s followed by “Not Myself.” Those opening instrumental moments speak of mystery, of something eerie approaching. Then a solid beat comes in, sort of dispelling that initial sense. But there is some unease here, as he tells us: “I’m not myself these days/I’m someone else.” This track features some nice work on violin that also begins to put us on edge. And soon we start to get an idea of just who this person is now. “My fingers exposed/Skin falls away/Teeth grow.” Ah, how would a lycanthrope feel? And would he be able to keep his sense of humor?
I love the strange sort of folk pop vibe of “The Stranger” right from the start. Darryl Kissick places us in an odd world in a song like this one, just at the edge of our reality, and so a world that feels true even as it feels weird. “The room grows small/As you talk of prophecies/Can’t tell what’s true as/You grin and bare your teeth.” Ah, perhaps it’s all true. The bass line at the beginning of “Alien” seems to signal that it might lead into a punk realm, but instead, it gets into somewhat psychedelic territory for a bit. As the vocals comes in, that rhythm is steady and prominent. Interestingly he sings, “Alien just needs a friend/Flies lower to see you,” reminding me of something Jonathan Richman might sing, as he does about the abominable snowman in the supermarket. Of course, the tone is quite a bit different from Richman’s work. That’s followed by “Nowhere,” which creates an eerie atmosphere, one of mist, with something glowing in the distance. There is a sense of fear, but also sadness. This instrumental track comes to an abrupt end, as we then shift into “In The Middle,” which puts us on more solid ground. Though the lyrics take us away from that: “Saw a vision/Another dimension/Now you don’t recognize yourself.”
The second side opens with “Eloise.” The vocals have a smooth, gentle sound, while the guitar threatens to cut through. Then that instrumental section has something of a playful vibe about it for a bit before turning more serious again. The song takes more interesting turns after that, at one point feeling like it’s about to shut down. I like how this music can surprise us. “Eloise” is followed by “Feet Fixed,” another track that creates a strong sense of atmosphere in its opening moments, growing pretty with that violin work before the vocals come in. The voice seems to come from just beyond us, or above us. A voice that may originate on the other side, or perhaps in our heads, haunting and compelling. “Let you go/Feet fixed/Shadows grow.” Then “Past Lives” has a sweeter, more friendly vibe as it begins. “Fills your head/And rolls off of your tongue/Spirit says/We’re never really done.”
The opening moments of “Heaven” grab us. Again, we’re unsure what path this one will take us down. Soon a good groove is established, and the word “Heaven” is sung. “Hey man/Hang on/Heaven/Is waiting.” It sounds pleasant, gentle, even uplifting. But the music right after that tells a different story perhaps, with a harsh edge, making us question what we just felt. Then that groove is re-established. But after the second verse, we can no longer be sure where we are. Darkness and pain are around us. The song slowly fades, as if descending into a hole that goes on forever, taking a portion of us with it, until all that remains is static, and maybe a presence within it. That makes us think of lines from “Eloise”: “Somebody/You only hear through static.” We begin from a different point now, the past being forgotten, having been sucked away. Ah, but there is a light, there is beauty, and so there is hope. We are in more familiar territory as “Samuel” begins, back on solid ground, with another strong bass line. But after that first verse, things change. A clock ticks oddly as we find ourselves holding our breath until the groove returns.
Record Track List
- In Denial
- Not Myself
- The Stranger
- In The Middle
- Feet Fixed
- Past Lives
Goodbye Patterns was released on October 6, 2023. By the way, the album’s cover artwork was created by Darryl Kissick’s father back in the 1970s.