Expectations and Boundaries
2019 is the debut album for Erica Eso, founded by composer and synthesizer Weston Minissali of Cloud Becomes Your Hand alongside Nathaniel Morgan on bass, Rhonda Lowry on drums and Ellen O’Meara on synthesizer. The collaborators push some of the expected boundaries while still staying grounded in some of the aspects of what makes up pop music, making 2019 a unique experience.
Opening 2019, “One Hundred Years” kicks off at an upbeat pace and with its breathy, catchy lyrics (“One hundred years / Me and my baby are going to leave this town”), it sets the album up for something positive, giggly and maybe even a little vapid. That does not become the case, though. As the album progresses songs become harsher, like “Crippled Symmetry” which has a more industrial sound compared to the rest of the album; particularly opener “One Hundred Years.” Near the end of the album much of those grounding pop music aspects have left and are replaced with much more abstract fundamentals: “Iris Kyle” sounds like a band tuning up while “Pink Atlantic” builds itself up from a flat bass line. With the closing song, “Jargon,” there is more of a union between what makes up “One Hundred Years” and what makes up “Pink Atlantic.” Overall, it is a little weird, definitely different and asks the question “what is this?”
What this is, seems to be happening more within the words than the music. Mostly there is an overall hope for the future, which may be why the album gets its name from a year that is four years into the future; maybe it is a hope for where Erica Eso will be in four years. At times, though, these songs touch on ideas of gender fluidity, the most obviously being “Good Good Bad” a love song that focuses on a woman and “how is she so beautiful when she’s so clearly a man.” Either way, it is the use of these abstract sounds that allows Erica Eso to actually explore either idea without feeling the constraints of the expected rules.