Recommended Tracks: “Forbidden Love”, “Dead Eyes”, “Monsters”
Artists You May Like: Duran Duran, AFI, Night Riots
When you think back to 2019, it almost seems like a different era. So much life has happened in the past two years, inspiring storytellers around the world to unleash their thoughts and observations in whichever form they please. Some through painting. Some through poetry. Others, such as glam alt-rockers The Ritualists, through music. The band released their first album, Painted People, in 2019, with no idea of what was to follow. They had a lot to say on that album, but as we near the end of 2021, they have even more to say, which shows on their sophomore effort, Baroque and Bleeding.
There is a sort of push-pull dynamic throughout Baroque and Bleeding that reflects some of the more complicated questions we may have asked ourselves these past couple of years. While going through lockdown or quarantine, for instance, there were many opportunities to think and connect with oneself, figuring out what is important in life or which choices should be made. We hear vignettes of this on tracks such as “Of Anonymity,” “Illusion of Poverty,” and title track “Baroque and Bleeding,” all of which send messages about authenticity. There is also commentary about the music industry and how society defines an artist, as we hear on “Forbidden Love” and “Everybody is on the Radio,” their cinematic qualities bringing extra attention to the overall themes of the tracks, as well as the themes of the album.
From the dramatic and wide ranging instrumentals to the theatrical delivery of the lyrics, Baroque and Bleeding is everything you love about 80s glam and 90s cynicism all in one. The subtle hysteria we hear from lead vocalist Christian Dryden on tracks like “Dead Eyes” brings these songs to life and add to their overall appeal. When paired with elements of 80s pop and rock, as we get on the hazy “Queen of Dolls” and the synth-filled “Monsters,” the vocals really shine and establish the tracks as true The Ritualists originals.
When comparing Baroque and Bleeding to Painted People, the growth that the band has had is evident. Christian has attributed this change to producer Ed Buller, who is one of “his heroes” and knew how to bring out certain “sonic details and idiosyncrasies.” Indeed, the album does feel more cohesive, playing to the band’s strengths. Even the psychedelic closer “Mothman” has a focused spirit, despite some of the swirling riffs and keyboard work. We have a more confident The Ritualists on this album, which is just what fans hope for on any artist’s infamous sophomore record.
Overall, Baroque and Bleeding is a strong ride from beginning to end. It is interesting how the band was able to mix the old and the new, giving us tracks that feel retro but relevant. There is also a great balance of darkness and light, which comes through in the structure of some of the tracks; for instance, “Everybody is on the Radio” has open choruses and more subdued verses, while “Dead Eyes” has a light feel and ominous lyrics. The band is sure to make some new fans through this album, all while continuing to carve out their place in the music scene.
You can listen to Baroque and Bleeding on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.