A.A. Bondy – Believers (Fat Possum/Spunk)

Believers is Bondy’s third solo album after his stint as a Kurt Cobain-wanna-be in the late 90s grunge trio Verbena. Contrary to his work with Verbena, Bondy’s solo albums have been stark, solitary affairs, recorded mostly on his own in a remote farm in upstate New York. Both of his previous albums, 2007’s American Hearts and 2009’s When The Devil’s Loose showed Bondy to be a songwriter of great depth.

Believers was recorded in Los Angeles and, along with Bondy’s guitar, piano and organ, features drummer and pedal steel player Benjamin Lester and organist Macey Taylor. Bondy co-produced with Rob Schnapf whose previous credits include Elliott Smith, Beck and Booker T. Jones. Bondy and Schnapf have produced a dreamy, late night suite of songs that feel like one long dreamscape rather than ten separate tracks.

The album begins with The Heart Is Willing. The track starts with drums and bass building up tension, then electric guitar and organ joining in. An unsettling guitar solo makes an entrance later in the song and the overall effect is something like what a gothic garage band would sound like.

The album’s most instantly accessible tune is Down In The Fire (Lost Sea). It is an almost unbearable slow and beautiful track that might make the listener think of Leonard Cohen’s Tower Of Song, only sung through a hazy, narcotic gauze.

The remainder of the album continues in a similar vein. Songs like Skull And Bones, Surfer King and Drmz seem to flow one into another, each coloured with twangy guitar, pedal steel or organ. Bondy’s The Twist will have one thinking of Joy Division, rather than Chubby Checker with its 80s-style synths and Bondy singing, “far away from the world” at the song’s end.

The final three songs, Rte 26/Believers and Scenes From A Circus actually do segue into each other, leaving the listener in a deep, dark, deliciously disconnected mood.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Down In The Fire (Lost Sea) from Believers