By Erin Coulehan, Contributor, DC Music Live
When we last met with Australian-rockers Atlas Genius, the band was busy taking the U.S. by storm and working on its first full-length album following the explosive success of its debut EP, Through the Glass. The band has since made a name for itself with dynamic live shows, electrified lyrics and dance-inducing melodies. When it Was Now was released this week via Warner Bros. and will be showcased at The Fillmore in Silver Spring on Friday, February 22.
The album opens with “Electric” featuring a dreamy, synth-heavy, intro which leads into frontman Keith Jeffery’s smooth vocals brought to life by even smoother lyrics. “From the corner of your eye /Down to the trap you set tonight /To give in all things that you need /To give you so much you can’t breathe,” sings Jeffery before building to a rising chant which sets the tone for the rest of the album.
“If So,” the next track, and the band’s current single, thoroughly supports the self-reflective quality which give the album’s lyrics notable weight and poignancy; these aren’t empty indie-pop songs, but introspective musings on the human condition at large set on fire by techy electric keys, and anchored by percussion and some busy bass work.
William Faulkner wrote that “was” is the saddest word, and by extension the most tragic condition, in any language because nothing “is even time until it was.” Rather than words like “again” which offer the hope of repetition, “was” is marked by an isolating sense of permanence in the past that is all too often recognized only after one has transitioned from the present, a here and now “I am,” to the irretrievable state of “was.”Atlas Genius seems conscious of this state of flux while developing the album, and so intrigued by the concept that the album takes its name from the eponymous song “When it Was Now.”
“And it is, what it was/ Until you let it go/ And it was, what it is/ Yeah, you gotta let it go,” purrs Jeffery in the track which could very well be a follow up to the band’s breakout single “Trojans.”
Tracks like “On A Day” and “All These Girls” take on a more ethereal perspective set to Michael Jeffery’s pulsating drums, describing chimerical journeys of love and life, checkered with drunken conversations cut all too short by time and distance.
Atlas Genius is currently on a nation-wide sold out tour with Imagine Dragons and is set to kick off its first North American headlining tour in April. With this week’s release of When it Was Now, it would seem that the band which takes its namesake from the members’ propensity for reading maps, is set to navigate new territory through the album which translates reflective subject matter into a collection of songs fit for dancing, sweating and maybe even a little bit of swooning.