On his third solo album for Sacred Bones, Wymond Miles pares back his sound while delving deep into the heart of pain and past with traumas both new and old. The album calls back to Miles’ youth in small working class towns, a side of America that’s been thrust into the light of day harder than ever this year. For those that grew up in the heartland among the flat expanses, endless highways and smell of carbide deeply ingrained into every fiber of life, its a bleak reminder as Miles unfolds a life less charmed in blistering black and white. For Miles, his towns lie further to the West than the rust belt ruts of my own youth. A land of promise from the turn of the century on, offering endless vistas and a life less managed and just as often offering a life less fruitful and quietly suffocating. Its a landscape that was built up high and only had further to fall from grace. Like the American South, the West has its billboard towns and vacation centers but on the other side of any vacation town lie those who’d love nothing more than for their tenure in town to end.
Call By Night touches on war’s human scars and youth’s permanent marks, and in his framing, Miles backs off a touch on the overt touches of Echo and the Bunnymen that have swathed his earlier records. There’s still a grandeur to this one, but its stripped clean and simple, like wire ready to be harnessed to a spark. Miles’ voice is up close and booming in your ears like an accusation. The songs are sparse, not to the point of being empty, but unfettered in a way that gives them a bigger punch when he unlooses his demeanor. The tension is thick, like the wounds never healed, feeling as if he picks at the bandage it might all unravel. And sometimes it does, such as when he burns the world down on the devastating centerpiece “Divided In Two.” He’s been an integral part of Fresh & Only’s dark pop corners and it seems that after his sophomore album he almost packed it in, but as Call By Night can attest, its a good thing he had another one to get out of him. This is Miles at his best and a boon to those souls curled under the covers waiting for the dawn to come each day.
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