Release Date 03/13/2020
(Gawk Records) SubModern
Vundabar is a great guitar band. In an age where critics argue endlessly over whether or not the guitar is dead, the Boston band could clearly care less. Trends be damned, Vundabar continue to play and be who they are. Along the way they’ve sold out 1000+ cap rooms across the country, self-released and sold thousands of their records, and built a dedicated fan base for their quirky indie pop that follows them wherever they go.
In March, Vundabar will release their fourth album, Either Light, on their own Gawk Records. “The album is about the transitional lightness that follows a period of heaviness” singer/guitarist Brandon Hagen explains, “After years of being caught up in a dark period marked by sickness, strife and worry, and using it as the context in which I saw myself, I suddenly found I'd outgrown that story. With that came a feeling of lightness that was opposite the feeling which preceded it.” The album’s title refers to that duality - “light” is used as a descriptor for the weight of feeling, the quality of illumination that frames that feeling and the spectrum that spans both.
The songs themselves contain numerous symbols that are key to understanding the album’s central theme. There is an acknowledgement of awful circumstances, an acceptance of them, and the decision to move forward regardless. It’s a universal trope that rings especially true at this point in history.
Cars, water and even Tony Soprano feature in the lyrics, each imbued with their own meaning relevant to Either Light’s themes. The paradox of being willfully doomed, which is arguable uniquely American, is embodied in Tony Soprano. Cars and driving appear continually in the lyrics, as songwriter Brandon Hagen explores the idea of being along for the ride, where the passenger isn’t necessarily in control. While writing the record, Hagen went swimming each day in a lake by his home. He was often struck by the relationship between light and water - how water divorces light from its source. The mysterious nature of refracted light and the sense of confusion it causes plays into the themes of the album as well as begs the question - from where and what?
For Either Light, Vundabar worked with producer Patrick Hyland (producer for Mitski's Be the Cowboy, Puberty 2, Bury Me at Makeout Creek). It makes the first time they have ever had someone produce one of their albums. Their original bass player, Zackery Abramo, re-joined the group to play on the record, and Emily Massey from Slow Pulp contributed backing vocals. While in the past Vundabar’s recording process has always been very self contained, this album is notable for having had more people collaborating than ever before. Recorded at Gradwell House and Retro City Studios, Vundabar came in with the song skeletons and built out the arrangements in the studio. The difference is apparent and there are a host of new sounds on Either Light, including a sequencer, vibraphone, synth, drum machines, and more layered vocals than ever before.