What they don’t tell you in books like What to Expect When You’re Expecting is that once babies are actually born, they cause monumental life shifts. While newborns provide a joyous new beginning for everyone in their circles, they also bring about symbolic and genuine endings. There’s the death of absolute freedom, a fundamental transformation of the relationship once shared with the infant’s mother and the realization that your selfish needs are suddenly far down on the list or priorities. On a deeper level, there’s the acceptance that you’ve continued the cycle of life and that hopefully after you die your memory will be kept alive by your offspring.
Jesu frontman Justin Broadrick (also the main man of recently reformed industrial sludge masters Godflesh) understands this dichotomy and has drawn from the sensations he experienced as a first-time parent to create the band’s fifth full-length album Everyday I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came. “[It] deals with the existential drain that is early parenthood,” Broadrick stated. That explains the abundance of melancholy, soporific soundscapes that billow around the shimmers of life-affirming light. It’s those shimmers that makes parenting tolerable and Everyday so satisfying.
Not that listeners enthralled by the concise and conventional songs on 2011′s Ascension will be disappointed. The new album strikes a balance between the sprawling epics of old and the organic shoegazer rock of Jesu’s last couple of records. Motivated, perhaps, by a near-complete lack of sleep, Broadrick crafted, surreal, multi-layered songs that abound with ethereal sounds, yet hold together as concrete, multi-dimensional tracks. “Homesick” expresses the duality of being away from loved ones with a monochromatic drum machine beat, a droning down-tuned riff and a simple, celestial guitar line.
“Comforter” is more hypnotic, filled with backward sound effects, multihued guitars — some crushing, some feather light — that wash in and out of the mix, and barely audible vocals reminiscent of Chapterhouse. Keyboards and falsetto vocals nod to Sigur Ros as Broadrick mumbles, “Did you wish the sky would open and the rain would come and wash them all away?”
The longest composition, “The Great leveler,” is alternatively wearily reflective and densely oppressive, cinematic music for late nights without a cinema and only bottles (of liquor and milk) and a crying baby to keep your company. The 17-minute long number is the only one to feature a guest — string composer Nicola Manzan — who provides enough contrast between the hazy, delicate guitar figures and the slo-mo demolition riffage to keep listeners glued for the duration.
Everyday is a both a dichotomous work of art and a sonic primer for first-time parents; it’s a piece filled with friction, disorientation, wonderment, exhaustion and ultimately the sheer delight of creation.