For New York’s latest emo/post-hardcore outfit Closer, a chance encounter in a practice space sparked a creative partnership, and the rest is seemingly history. Firstly, its members originate from the lineup of Brooklyn-based indie stalwarts Real Life Buildings, which include Crying’s Elaiza Santos and Vagabon bandleader Lætitia Tamko. While it’s not a requirement for every emotionally raucous band to spawn from a fantastical blood oath or brutal mosh pit duel, the inception of Closer attests to their unpolished professionalism on the well-worn stage and in the home studio. Their debut off of Lauren Records, All This Will Be, dismantles the bravado set forth by Real Life Buildings’ première Significant Weather and channels its boundless passion into an original and intense work of art.
Whereas Significant Weather embodied a broad range of songwriting with hallmarks of biting power pop and modest slacker rock tossed into the fray, All This Will Be is a calculated, yet brooding change of pace. Amid Ryann Slauson’s splintering drumming and the teamwork of Griffin Irvine’s murky bass and Matthew Van Asselt’s chiming guitar, there’s a merciless finish that coats the nine cuts on their debut. From their tapered dynamics to their employment of dissonant segues to bridge tracks together, Closer pounce at every opportunity in the pursuit of evoking the raw and impassioned ethos of their hardcore superiors.
Instantaneously, the rapid-fire momentum of lead single “Gift Shop” trims their turbulent performance into a rough-hewn formula for the rest of the album to maneuver around. As a vocalist, Slauson is wrenching and guttural relative to the mania behind her pleas while her verses conjure a rift one imposes between themselves and the outside world (“All these people/And I just want/To crawl under the porch where I belong”). Equally rife with vigor but harmonically upbeat, “This Year” chronicles the convalescence from a break-up with a uniform emphasis toward loss and the prospects to come. Although Closer’s delivery recalls the strong-arm operatives of post-hardcore greats Fugazi and Unwound, the trio offsets indignation with a devastating exploration of adolescent dread.
With a trove of definitive bands in the contemporary emo circuit venturing into the canopy of indie rock as a counterpoint to brash and lawless exploits, All This Will Be is a refreshing and life-affirming return to form. Midsection highlights “Dust” and “Birdhouse” stretch their capacities past the five-minute mark with an arsenal of spoken word samples and post-rock-inspired arrangements at their disposal. The latter vacillates between hushed passages ostensibly lifted from Sunny Day Real Estate’s seminal Diary and ear-piercing climaxes marred by waves of feedback. To the contrary, fizzling bangers like “Hardly Art” and “Rec Room” encapsulate the band in the throes of confusion while keeping their composure under the brink of total collapse.
Compared to their contemporaries, Closer leans toward sincere musicianship without disavowing lackadaisical nuance. Forgoing the trend of pertinent political and societal undertakings constructing the thematics of hardcore in recent years, All This Will Be is the product of internal meditation demanding an immediate and uncensored outlet. As piercing and often unsettling as the final product may be, their antipathy is far from ungraspable. Wallowing beneath the commotion are songwriters accustomed to uncaging their ambitions and fears in brisk sweeps—only this time, the setting is natural and the effect is consistently engaging.