2016 would see a lineup change and the return of lead singer Toledo to the east coast. After almost two years of cross coast collaboration, the band would reunite and reinvent itself in voice and songcraft.
“Characteristics of Living Things” was written and recorded through the winter of 2016 in a quiet home studio nestled in the remote woods of northwest GA. Here the indie rock outfit fully embrace their pop sensibilities and find a shimmery summer sound returning to the upbeat tempos of the band’s original form and flare. Entirely self produced, multi-instrumentalist Spears pushes the boundaries of the band's sonic DNA using everything within reach to uncover lush new landscapes.
“We dusted off an old 1950’s upright Sterling piano and made it a focal point throughout the record. It's that cohesive thread that leaves enough space to explore other details and textures without overpowering the core elements of the song. There are certain keys that buzz and rattle… if you listen closely you can hear them in most every chord.”
Characteristics opens and closes with folk sing alongs, bringing back friends from afar to gather and stomp in merriment to the rustic nostalgia of the band’s southern roots.
In contrast to its bookends, the push and pull of “Quiet Violet” ignite fearless momentum into the catalog. The immediacy of the band’s lead track “Emperors” exhibits a newfound swagger, perhaps a false sense of confidence. "I can be your emperor" seems to pine for a hopeful sense of purpose. Characteristics peaks in anthemic fashion with “Great Expectations” showcasing that barrelling wall of sound before taking a hushed dive into the reflective “Living Things”. Through the twists and turns, Toledo describes a newfound self awareness and explores an urgent desire to be present.
“We lost some significant people in our lives… and with each loss, it was like experiencing some sort of identity crisis. This record certainly navigates some of that mental space. In all this self reflection, I can say good friends and gratitude keep us all well grounded… we’ve been so fortunate to be continuing in this creative process. It has forced us to be present. And through that connection, this record is certainly a celebration.”