Forgive me for arriving late to this party. For years, I have involuntarily suffered this connection to emo music in particular, with all of its forlorn lyrics and lugubrious instrumentals. If I had known that at the heart of Superheaven was this obviously emo personality, I would have been all over them from the start. But no one told me.
It wasn’t until Balance And Composure announced Superheaven as their special guest for their second-to-last show ever that I found a reason to give this enigmatic, elusive band a try. As soon as I listened to “I’ve Been Bored” with a special delight that can only arise from the satisfaction of discovering new music, I prayed that the next song would carry a similar sensation. And it did. And so did the song after that. And after that.
Ours Is Chrome is a vessel for confession. The genre of emo relies on introspection, and, commonly, the result is something of a harsh confession. For 40 minutes, Superheaven is unloading baggage with overflowing dismalness, most of which is addressed in “I am” or “I have” statements. The first line of the album, in “I’ve Been Bored,” is “I’ve been stagnant / I’ve been bored.” It’s introspective and confessional from the start, and this only intensifies as the album progresses. The fifth track “Leach” especially emanates this gloomy energy. It starts with the line, “I’m in your way / And I know I drag you down,” and continues to confront a complex relationship occupied by a helpful friend whose helpfulness begins to make the other feel like a burden, or, more fittingly, a leech.
Ultimately, the heartbreaking part about this is that even the little bit of light that sheds into his life fades into black and feeds into the darkness. “I wanted it dark / I never let the light in / Covered myself / Hid from everything,” sings Taylor Madison on the following track “Downswing,” painting the image he had already been indicating toward with his emotions, only now with real, tangible pictures. This album doesn’t merely have a shadow casted over it or a rain cloud looming over it; it is completely saturated in darkness. The light is never let in.
Superheaven breaches on horror movie territory when the blood starts to rush in at track eight, “Gushin’ Blood.” The song itself is mystifying and eerie from the very first line, “Had the sweetest dream last night / I was playing with my knives.” They become not only consumed by depression and dreariness, but there is a certain monstrosity that comes into play. This morbid image flows into the next song, “Dig Into Me,” specifically with its animalistic elements. “Dig into me / Feel your nails in my skin they claw / The words dig in / Let me go and let this end,” sings Madison, blurring the line between words and actions. From this snapshot of physicality emerges a more effective depiction of the turmoil — it doesn’t merely consist of hiding out in darkness and feeling unproductive and unmotivated, it’s as deep and sharp as the stab of a knife.
The pain becomes alive with this visceral embodiment, and it haunts throughout the second half of the album. The next track, “From the Chest Down,” dwells on death, specifically illustrated with this line, “Gravel pressing into your skin / You can hardly breathe.” This time, a different type of haunting surfaces in the form of guilt. He begs for forgiveness, and even if he receives it, he will still be haunted by guilt, lacking forgiveness from himself. It is a new misery, and an immensely powerful one. It is essentially the most critical part of the album: the ways in which misery materializes, and the almighty aftermath that can take hold of an entire consciousness. After residing in this defeated consciousness for 40 minutes, it takes a bit of a toll, in a way I never thought was possible.