Earlier in the year, seeyouspacecowboy shook the hardcore scene by releasing their split with emo-revival band If I Die First, which accumulated in an explosion of both bands writing a single song together, and duking it out in a gigantic music video. Now, the San Diego based band are coming back swinging with their second full length album, The Romance of Affliction. In 2019, the sass-core band released their debut album, Correlation Between Entrances and Exit Wounds. Though the debut was a fantastic jumping point for the band, bringing a lot of emotion and theatrics to the forefront, they wound up losing the charm of their chaos from previous releases through it. With their sophomore release, they bring their sporadic riffs back into the limelight, and pair it masterfully with their new-found sounds of the recent emo-revival genre, working with producer Isaac Hale (guitarist of Knocked Loose, Inclination).
In a recent interview with Revolver, where Connie (vocalist) opens up about the release, she says, “For the first time I feel like spacecowboy’s stable. During Correlation, that was only me and Jesse [Price, former guitarist-vocalist] on that album. Back then, the band was in a lot of turmoil.” With the band itself seeming more cohesive than before, it seems they’ve creatively found their stride. In regards to the changing of the band’s sound, Connie said, “I know other members of the band have said, ‘This is what spacecowboy is supposed to sound like,’ and I’m tending to agree now. At first, I viewed it very much like, ‘Oh, this is an experimental step out of our comfort zone,’ but then I kind of was like, ‘No, I actually feel very comfortable with this sound.’ This is what SpaceCowboy’s supposed to sound like.” – a perfect blend of each of their previous sounds melded with the sound they teased in their split with If I Die First.
Life As a Soap Opera Plot, 26 Years Running starts us off the album, well, running with an unmistakable feature – Keith Buckley. The riffs at the beginning of the song are less chaotic/chuggy, and far more sweeping and melodic, though the song gets progressively heavier, just before a panic-chord driven breakdown we get a nice big, “WOO” from the band members. Classic 2000s. After Keith’s crazy feature, Tay’s (bassist/cleans) vocals come in with a crisp, swooning chorus, leading us into Connie whispering, “say your prayers”, before kicking us in the teeth with the last breakdown – which Keith comes back in for! A strong start to the record, showcasing everything in store for the rest of the album – and a feature to keep people listening who might be unsure.
Misinterpreting Constellations was the first single/music video the band released when announcing the new album. In case people had thought the split with If I Die First was a fluke, Seeyouspacecowboy assured everybody with this track that the emo-revival sound was here to stay. Both Tay and Ethan (guitarist) get to let their vocals shine as the dual-cleans go back and forth on this track, interwoven by Connie’s chaotic screams – the chorus will undoubtedly be stuck in everybody’s heads, replaying, “I’ll take all your pain just to make you feel safe”.
Following up the single-train, the third track on the record is the third single the band released, The End to a Brief Moment of Lasting Sincerity. One of my favorite opening riffs off of the entire album, each strum/drum beat enunciating every word Connie says in a catchy style. “You lay…eyes. Wide. Shut,” Connie speaks, just before letting out a powerful, heartfelt scream that leads us directly into the chorus in a seamless transition. Though in a review, the songs are really the only thing that matters, it’s important to note that the music video does feature a very intimate, sensual setting with only members of the LGBQT community. On Instagram, Connie says, “It really does mean a lot to me that we were able to make something like this featuring exclusively queer representation as a band on the heavier side of music.”
The fifth song on the record, With Arms That Bind and Lips That Lock, might settle nicely as my favorite song on the record. It’s powerful in all the right areas, and catchy in all of the rest. Leading with Connie’s sass, and going straight into a riff torn right out of Songs For the Firing Squad, we top it all off with a chorus that feels akin to a Taking Back Sunday song.
Intersecting Storylines to the Same Tragedy was a track I was incredibly interested in – and not just from a musical standpoint. This track, the second single they released, features Aaron Gillespie – ex-vocalist of Underoath. As fantastic as this record is, and as much of their own sound and creative elements that they bring to the table, it’s no secret that it wouldn’t exist without bands like Underoath in the early 2000s, so to bring one of the people personally responsible for pushing the genre as a whole forward on as a guest vocalist is a tasteful, brilliant decision that ends up creating a powerful single.
Through the rest of the album, tracks refuse to stop standing out. From Anything To Take Me Anywhere But Here being arguably the heaviest song they’ve released, to Melodrama Between Two Entirely Bored Individuals having the absolute best chorus of the mid-2000s happen right here in 2021. All great things must come to an end, however, and what an end – their last song, The Romance of Affliction, starts where this sound began – with a feature from If I Die First. Admittedly, I’d expected this song to be a chaotic bop – much like their split song, bloodstained eyes. Surprisingly, though not disappointingly, it was the slowest song on the release. It felt each moment out, waiting for the right times to get heavy, but letting you rest easy, and really feel the intensity behind the lyrical themes of the record. The feature itself at the end of the song felt more melodic and controlled than heavy and chaotic, which was especially nice when juxtaposed to their previous split, and a wonderful fading outro to this strong sophomore record.
Seeyouspacecowboy have finely crafted their take on a genre well explored, combining all they know of their brand of chaotic hardcore (or sass-core) and blending it beautifully with elements of early 2000s emo. The Romance of Affliction is the perfect accumulation of every release the band has had thus far; from Firing Squad, to Correlation, to A Sure Disaster, they’ve taken everything they’ve learned and packed it into a cohesive 13-track work of emo-revival art.