Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
There is nothing stranger than sharing a bed. If there is anything stranger than that, it's sharing a room, a house, a tube of toothpaste, a car, a bank account, a wedding day, a commitment, children, a dog with another person. It's sharing it all - a cluster, a mess of stuff - with one other person. It shouldn't just be for the normal guy or woman, married to a celebrity, to be taken aback by how odd it is that they're with that particular person whom everyone knows. Just think about how messed up and mind-blowing it still must be for Jessica Alba's husband to wake up next to her every day. It's a thought devoid of anything sexual, but simply a realization of the odd machinations of relationships and just how things come to be. It can have the same gravity, when applied to regular old folks, who have been together for some time, or no time at all. That crawling under the covers with another person and waking with the sun, with them still sleeping beside you, as if none of this was awkward or hard to comprehend is absolutely awkward and hard to comprehend. If you really wanted to, you could find ways to always feel like strangers, even if this were the thousandth night sleeping beside them. These are the conflictions that the people in Broken Fences songs deal with, in their own ways.
Morgan Erina and Guy Russo create relationships that rarely get beyond these moments of intense scrutiny. They are turned over and looked at in detached ways until they feel foreign and yet still maintain that feeling of natural intimacy, or the kind that we prefer to assume is always there between people who have been together for a certain, prolonged length of time. The Pittsburgh band brings so many pretty harmonies into these stories filled with emotional friction that it all works as a wonderful cover. We're thrown, in contrasting ways, into these tumultuous mosaics of relationships that might or might not last, even though their longevity isn't really the issue at all. It's in the behavior and in the concessions made to keep them going, to keep these folks waking up in the same bed and loving only that one other person in that close way that is so fascinating.
Erina and Russo sing so many lines that make the craziness of solidarity in love so amusing. They sing about not knowing how to sleep without a pocketknife, as if totally acknowledging that it's always going to be a stranger next to you. They sing, "I can't see the silence between us." There are countless opportunities to dig into these arrangements that are made between two people, exposing them for their shakiness. Somehow, it all wrings out beautifully.