San Franciscan collective Elder Brother take an unexpected turn on their third record I Won’t Fade On You, and establish themselves as more than just a side project, but a beautiful and emotive force to be reckoned with.
Following on from indie rock debut Heavy Head (2014) and darker emo rock output Stay Inside (2018), I Won’t Fade On You stands as a refreshing change no one saw coming, especially from members of the Pure Noise roster. Made up of vocalist Dan Rose (Daybreaker) and guitarist Kevin Geyer (The Story So Far), fans of either band (back in Daybreaker’s day) couldn't have predicted their previous styles, but nothing hinted at the softer, more atmospheric levels the pair and bassist Morgan Foster and drummer/keyboardist Evan Garcia-Renart could reach.
Driven by acoustic melodies and flourished with beautiful harmonies, gentle piano segments and the occasional muted horn and string addition, these 11 tracks show us a whole new side to Elder Brother and highlights their songwriting expertise. With this record, the vocals are elevated by the instrumentation rather than drowned out by it, and every element has been well composed. Once you’ve gotten over the initial shock of the opening title track, which is a gentle and harmonious piece, I Won’t Fade On You is a peaceful yet chilling listening experience. Flowing from major to minor – the jaunty, upbeat ‘Halloween’ to the off-beat, heart-wrenching ‘OK, Alright’, the staccatoed, sonically-enhanced ‘I Get So Tired Of You’ to the complex, country-tinged ‘The War Is Over’ - it maintains the same genre tropes but the emotional soundscapes prevent it from becoming stagnant.
Known for their ability to be vulnerable thanks to their previous album that covers drugs addiction, I Won’t Fade On You can be inferred as a chronological tale of a relationship reaching its end. For example, the title track speaks of love and commitment, then most recent single ‘Projector’ hints and heartbreak and rejection, ‘Hair’ covers reminiscing and pining (with the extra effective rough ending with an aggressive acoustic strum and calls of “Goddamn it”), and finally closing track ‘Washed’ implies him letting her go as he sings “it washed her away”. Although this is not the confirmed theme, which is merely the turbulence of both platonic and romantic relationships in general, it’s interesting to interpret it yourself through their ambiguous, personal lyrics.
I Won’t Fade On You’s left-field genre attempt could have been a huge risk to Elder Brother’s reputation and fanbase, had they not pulled it off so spectacularly. However, this mighty step out of their normal comfort zone has instead earned even more respect for their artistry and songwriting.
I Won't Fade On You is out now via Pure Noise. Purchase the record here.