Bnny Take an Unabashed Look at Partnership and Loss on One Million Love Songs

The Chicago-based band leads with their hearts on their sedated sophomore album, as Jessica Viscius uses spacious arrangements to honor the lasting effects of game-changing relationships without losing herself completely.

Music Reviews Bnny
Bnny Take an Unabashed Look at Partnership and Loss on One Million Love Songs

In a world of right-swipe romance and TikTok tarot card readers convincing you the person you’re pining over will totally reach out as long as you smash that like button, true love seems like a taboo. It’s almost embarrassing to admit you’re “down bad” when the internet is begging you to be a no-strings-attached baddie. It feels like love, just like everything else, comes down to convenience. If it works out, great, if not, download an app and move on to the next. However, on Bnny’s sophomore album, One Million Love Songs, band leader Jessica Viscius explores how nuanced, gorgeous and life-affirming love can be if we truly open ourselves up to it.

Viscius doesn’t pretend to act like this level of sincerity is easy; in fact, the most striking aspect of the album is how she reconciles with loss yet remains fascinated by the way this crazy intense feeling shapes our lives. The follow-up to 2021’s Everything—written following the death of her partner and fellow Chicago musician, Trey Gruber—finds her touching on how certain loves never leave you. Something is devastating yet comforting in her lullaby delivery; on 11 tracks she strikes the balance between keeping her past relationships close while allowing herself the space to grow. The opener, “Missing,” encapsulates the flustering fluctuation that comes with moving on—in the first verse she proclaims “nothing’s missing” but finds herself conceding in the final lines, through her quiet admission that “When I’m with you / I almost forget / That he’s missing.”

Still, there are moments where Bnny presents the sugary-sweet, in-over-your-head sort of infatuation that reminds us why we’re willing to put so much on the line to chase that high in the first place. There’s a huge risk associated with allowing ourselves to become so vulnerable, so attached, so changed by someone—yet we continue to do it. On the subdued yet tender “Nothing Lasts,” the muffled guitars distill the total disbelief of waking up to the person you love and realizing that they really exist, that you have the privilege of sharing not only this moment but so many more with them. The sparse instrumentation seems to be an early morning fever dream as Viscius croons, “Wake up baby / I’m ready for my kiss / Wake up baby / I can’t believe I love you like this.” There is a second where reality is suspended, where everything seems to glow, and even though she’s aware this won’t last, that’s not what matters. Bnny isn’t here to cling, but rather they’re here to take things as they come and appreciate the temporary and transient beauty that makes this kind of intimacy so enamoring.

While One Million Love Songs revolves around relationships, Viscius doesn’t solely center the narrative on other people. Rather, she places an emphasis on the wispy way we’re all interconnected. She uses her spacious arrangements to honor the lasting effects of these game-changing relationships without losing herself completely. There are moments of deep inner conflict, like on “Sweet,” where she yearns for a freedom that only she can give herself. It’s not like she disappears into her partners—instead, she derives a new understanding and strength from the different version of herself she finds with them. She’s candid about how love is fluid and fickle and how, at the end of the day, all you have is yourself. The lofty percussion and lithe vocals on “Change” mimic the way that kisses come and go, but that feeling of truly seeing yourself in light of someone else is something no break-up can take from you.

We’re never truly the same after sharing so much of ourselves with someone, but the truth is: Having the opportunity to foster such a tender bond is something to treasure. Even on “Get It Right,” as Viscius introduces heavy handed guitars that are stark comparison to the otherwise sedated atmospherics that ornament the LP, it feels like just another stop on the spectrum of emotion that love elicits from us. There’s no right or wrong way to do it—there’s no rulebook, no way that you’re “supposed” to feel when faced with such pure devotion and subsequent grief.

Still, there is something miraculous about it; you can’t help but feel lucky amidst the ambivalence. It’s long been said that love is the best thing we do, and how can you not agree with that sentiment after wandering through the maze of healing and heartbreak hand-in-hand with Jessica Viscius? In the final track over docile strumming, she breathlessly sighs: “No one loves me anymore.” Whether it’s the most tragic or triumphant closing line is up for the listener to decide. Either way, One Million Love Songs delivers exactly what it promises—an unflinching look into the seemingly endless ways that love (and loss) leaves its fingerprints on us.

Read our recent profile on Bnny here.

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