Jeremy Larson’s They Reappear: Worth the Effort
In a digital age where many have declared the death of the album, Jeremy Larson has released an album that demands to be respected as such. I fear that this one of those albums that sadly many will likely not have the patience to appreciate its brilliance. Our lives are just too busy or too filled with clutter to make room for an album that requires 50 minutes of our time. A casual listen to They Reappear is quite pleasant but Larson’s latest is lyrically dense and emotionally heavy. Larson’s previous songs sometimes sounded as if they were backed by a full orchestra—this time they actually are and Larson impressively recorded every piece himself. Its an album that makes us uncomfortable in all the right ways, it demands close attention and the listener is all the better for it.
They Reappear is a soberly hopeful album. Larson deals with numerous demons: our tendency to isolate ourselves and grow numb to life’s pains (“Day Residue”), the loss and remembrance of a loved one (“Stirring”), and dealing with our mortality (“Bedside Manner”). “Ricochet” and “Intervention” are probably the two songs most closely resembling previous Larson songs. “Half Speed” and “Bedside Manner” represent a more distinct movement away from his previous album, Salvation Club and represent the two most compelling songs on the album. “Bedside Manner” finds the singer conversing with the devil and reflecting on the inevitability of his own death—toward the end he encourages those around him to bravely face their own mortality:
When that moment comes and my breath is gone,
don’t look away,
because you have not seen what it truly means to be alive
until you have seen yourself inside a dead man’s eyes.
There is a distinct progression of thought and emotion presented in the album. “Descending” seeks to bring a romantic relationship down to earth, while “Ricochet” reflects on love’s fleeting nature and “Half Speed” struggles to hold on to memorable moments inside a relationship. A significant shift toward more sobering realities takes place at “Doe Eyed Children.” The remainder of the album tells tales of struggle that never really get resolved until the album’s conclusion. “Stirring” represents the most hauntingly emotional song as it presents persistent dreams of a lost lover. In the final song, “They Reappear,” Larson responds to each of the struggles that have been expressed by praying, “just a closer walk with thee, but Lord you’ll have to carry me.” It’s a stirringly hopeful song that reminds us of where the peace, security, and hope we long for can be found.
Perhaps the clearest reason Larson’s album deserves a complete listen is the presence of 6 instrumental tracks. I rarely enjoy instrumental tracks in albums by singer/songwriters—I usually feel like they are trying too hard to be artistic. That couldn’t be further from the truth here. Every instrumental track on this album feels necessary. These tracks serve as orchestral extensions that complete the emotional thought of a song (“Parasomias,” “Circadian Cues,” and “Remission”) or contrast it and prepare the listener for what is to come (“Provoke” and “Murmur/Exhale”).
To be perfectly honest with you, I too rarely have time any more to sit down and listen to an album from start to finish giving careful consideration to each song. I probably listened to They Reappear 10 times in preparation for this review—8 of those listens came while driving or working in my office doing other things. However those 8 listens quickly made me realize that this album deserved more attention and I am convinced that I am a better for it. In our fast-paced world there are still works that demand us pause and give them thoughtful reflection—They Reappear is one such work, I hope you won’t miss it.