Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
Lauren Larson, the frontwoman for Austin band Ume, makes us believe that the murkiness of our souls and those of others we're suspicious of or cautious to become entangled with, can be glittery. It can be seen as some wonderfully affected adornment that doesn't need to be hidden, but propped up and examined, right out there in the blazing sun or the concealing capper of night's color. Behind a moody backdrop of guitars and emotional baggage, come the pieces of and whole stories following the misadventures of the most common versions of relationships - those messed up by the people who thought they wanted them to work. There's always that laundry list of reasons and almost all of them play out in a different way, even when there are some similarities, but Ume take us up close and personal with the ones that reveal themselves secretively, or the ones that we would claim sneaked up on us, though we know better than to suggest such a thing. There's a sixth sense evident in a number of the songs on "Phantoms," the band's new record, where we're given an idea, from the very onset of a song that there are about to be some issues and things are going to degenerate quickly once triggered. Larson sings, "This embrace is like quicksand," and it's like a damning hand has been solemnly placed upon the shoulder of the embracer. We've been warned that there is a very minute chance of a happy ending and we're pretty sure that there are few who want to see any kind of happy ending come out of a relationship where quicksand hugs are the norm. Larson, in a tender, whispery way, makes Ume songs sound as if they're being shared with us in private, as if all of this stuff we're about to hear is off-the-record and it's to be spoken of no where else. These are those cautionary tales that we hear about. They are told for the sake of learning what to be on the lookout for should you ever find yourself in a similar embrace, with a similar person. These are all the minor little steps that, when combined and seen as a walk along a path, are compelling and we're able to see how all of this led us here. Larson gives these people and these mostly unhappy predicaments or conclusions that kicker that it could have been any one of us in the same spot, feeling like we were drowning, feeling as if we were suffocating from the insides out, feeling as if we needed to get away from everything at once. These are the common factors that tie us all together and sometimes these dark little hiccups that we've all felt can provide the briefest of sparkles, when shared lightly.