The numbers “Twenty-three, nineteen” might ring a nostalgic bell for most folks growing up in the 2000’s, but Philly-based band twentythreenineteen is set to release their latest LP, fittingly named XXIIIXIX, due to drop June 21, 2019 via Know Hope Records. With a focus on the trials and tribulations associated with growing up and attempting to maintain healthy relationships with others, this album will definitely make the numbers 2319 take on an entirely new meaning in your brain spaces.
The album begins with “Lost,” a track that presents what I would consider a bit of social commentary about young adulthood and coming to grips with one’s individual role in the larger scheme of humanity. This lyrical theme is paired with a light, dreamy instrumental foundation that had me dancing around my apartment like I was in the opening scene of The Sound of Music. Throughout track one our vocalist beckons listeners to “come with me and you will see,” which brilliantly sets the narrative the rest of the album fills out.
The next track we have “Losing Touch,” a seemingly happy one with tappy drums and a groovy, driving bass line that I guarantee will be stuck in your head for days. The lyrics and music video for this track can be interpreted as a representation of being with a partner who struggles with mental illness. This mellow and melancholy song succinctly captures the whirlwind of a deteriorating relationship with poignant lines like “I think I’m losing touch of us.”
There is a nice transition into the next song, “I Am,” that begins with a brassy acoustic intro that throws out some real The Front Bottom vibes, which seamlessly flows into a mellow, but still jazzy tune. This is the first time the line “You remember when we laughed aloud as best friends?” is heard but can be found again throughout the album, adding a neat thread that weaves itself through various songs on the effort. This song ends abruptly and is quickly followed by the familiar “we’ve got a twentythreenineteen!” quote, bringing particular attention to the next song, “Tangled.” Complete with friendly riffs and nicely layered vocals, this track has a fun and sunny Seaway vibe that makes me want to roll my windows down and drive really fast at the beach. If this song doesn’t make it onto your summer playlist, what are you even doing?
“Remain” is the next song and keeps up the pop rock grooves with a bit more of a hip-hop synth beat and a fast, chanted chorus with crash cymbals that build into a rich, unique sound. Right in the heart of the album is the song titled “Scripted.” This track has palm mutes for daaays and includes some nice twinkle tones with backing vocals but shifts the lyrical tone of the album. As our lyricist seems to suddenly realize their relationship is becoming increasingly void and scripted it seems as if they are simply going through the motions. “Convince Me” is another impressively tracked song with multiple vocal layers carefully draped over a light instrumental frame.
“Best Friends” is a stellar track that will probably be your next Sad Summer Jam For Late Night Drives™. It is by far the longest song on the record, and we hear a few repeated lyrics and sets of notes that seems to really emphasize this is the focal point of the album. This emotionally arduous song is then followed by the shortest track on the record, simply titled “Breathe.” The echoey track paints a hazy picture of trying to keep oneself centered and grounded while in emotional distress. Featuring rather encouraging lyrics like “allow your mind to fight,” and “allow yourself to feel alive again,” I can easily see this song becoming one that brings strength and hope to many who may need to hear those kinds of words from another person. (Yeah, that means you. What are you even worried about? You’ve got this, homie.)
The final three tracks conclude the album and its themes well. “You” is an absolute snazz of a tune and I simply cannot keep myself from dancing like I’m on top of a cloud every time this one comes on. The phrase “it’s always you” is repeated throughout the track often and believe it gives just the perfect sound for that bitter unease you feel when you know you’ve got to do something difficult in order to help yourself grow as an individual. Then we have “Ascending,” a catchy song with a bit more of a cheerful tone complete with a bittersweet optimism in the lyrics. Our lyricist takes the future into their own hands and focuses the lyrics around one of my favorite lines referenced a few times throughout the album, “dissect our souls with sound.” The final track on XXIIIXIX, “Drained” seems to find our lyricist reflecting on the toll a relationship has taken on them. This consideration of self and reflection gives this song an interesting glimmer of closure, and in turn, the emotional space to begin to heal and grow. The track begins slowly, with a deliberate tempo and vocabulary set but as the song progresses both the music and vocal style become more intense and frenzied, stopping abruptly, leaving the album on a musical cliffhanger and the listener absolutely yearning for more.
But have no fear, fellow listener; simply leave the album on repeat and yearn no more.
The meticulously layered instrumental tracks on XXIIIXIX create a deliberately delicate framework that is adorned by diverse vocal work and allows twentythreenineteen to present the culmination of their rich and vibrant, yet graceful sound.