Life. It’s frightening, it’s real, it’s uncertain.
The thought itself can dry away a smile. That being said, there are a few things I must say before I talk about Sympathy.
I understand that this might sound like a gross exaggeration, but I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t get to know Scattered Trees last year. If that does sound like a gross exaggeration, I guess it probably is. But if I had to exaggerate about something I wouldn’t mind at all, it’s this.
Maybe the reason why Scattered Trees is so essential to me is because… it was with me through the whole of 2011. It was a weird year but I started doing things I had always dreamt of, so I wouldn’t complain. Nate Eiesland, their frontman conveys through the album that in a lifetime, everyone goes through an inevitable stage where life makes them take an uncomfortable look at who they have turned into. I relate to that. SO much of this life is utter bullshit, that all we ever have is who we are. I don’t even completely decipher the meaning of what he’s saying because all of this – everything is so back-and-forth/wishy-washy or whatever, that things keep changing. I suppose all he means to say is, we should change just because we want to.
#1. Bury The Floors 4:21
#2. Conversation About Death on New Year’s Eve 3:53
#3. Love and Leave 4:23
#4. Four Days Straight 3:36
#5. Sympathy 2:31
#6. Five Minutes 4:56
#7. Where You Came From 4:15
#8. I Swear to God 2:41
#9. On Your Side 3:00
Nate Eiesland: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Ryne Estwing: Bass, Vocals
Alissa Eiesland: Vocals, Keys
Baron Harper: Drums
Jason Harper: Keys, Guitar, Vocals
DATE OF RELEASE:
5th April, 2011
Whatever ‘soul searching’ means. Everyone, if not knowingly, is doing it all the time. Time has worn you out and you finally see why. Everything has been blocked away for so long that it doesn’t bother you anymore until that one day, when it all comes out rushing like it was meant to be. You don’t always need a full-blown cross-genre orchestra, the cellos, the violins, the santoors – the whole deal, to overwhelm you. A voice with a piano would be enough to stir you up inside. Take it or leave it – we are that delicate.
Now, here’s the problem. Before people can let themselves be swept away by that simplicity and get started with Sympathy; if they have YouTubed Scattered Trees in the past, they face a daunting task to get over the coolness of the video for the beautiful Love And Leave and listen to the album from track #1 to track #9 without any preconceived notions. The description of the video says – ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the boys of Scattered Trees captured a princess. Unfortunately, one of them fell in love’. The reason why this a problem is because Love and Leave, somehow, doesn’t fit well into the album.
Nevertheless, getting to the album; Bury The Floors is by far the most beautiful album opener I’ve ever heard for an Indie record. Nate Eiesland’s throw is so calm and assuring that you would want his voice to read out the contacts on your phone. The harmonies are omnipresent but do not step out of the shadow. On the same lines of Bury The Floors, Five Minutes starts off with a simple two-string guitar picking and swells into a massive chorus towards the end, much similar to Coldplay’s Fix You. “I was lost but I was free. It took the pain to remind me.” – This kind of self-exploration is something that makes you feel vulnerable and strong at the same time.
Scattered Trees shows that they can let it go when they desire and have a ball in the one-step-two-step rocker Four Days Straight. The guitars are always subdued, quietly tinkling behind the wall of sound that Nate’s voice creates, with the occasional synth soaring high across the bridge. Somehow, Scattered Trees falls prey to its own tricks with three acoustic songs in the bottom-half of Sympathy, severely disturbing its overall balance and making the album top-heavy. This may or may not be bad after all, since all of the songs are so special in their own twisted way that you remember nothing by the end of Sympathy. All said and done, Scattered Trees have written a saga about love and death and are able to make the listener at least budge an inch, if not more.
To put it in brief, Sympathy is an album about how everything that happens makes you change. Nate Eiesland is apologetic throughout the record and somehow, things fall into place by the end of the gem of an album that it is. Scattered Trees convinces you that there is still a silver lining. There’s a possibility that you might be a sane person. So much so, that you might stand up and say it out loud. Why, you might wonder, do you suddenly seem to have grown this audacity to say such a thing? It’s because you have been loved. You’ve been loved and you reciprocated with no questions asked. It’s a sentiment that never goes away. You don’t need anyone’s time or attention, you just need assurance. You might be insane. This doubt blooms and spreads like vines along the heart of Sympathy. By the end of it, you realize that what you’ve felt all these days, what you continue to feel irrespective of everything, makes you feel alive more than ever.
… and suddenly, the smile slithers back on your lips.