A.A. Bondy is constantly evolving. After founding Alabama-based grunge band Verbena, he moved on to enchant indie folk crowds with sorrowful solo albums and earnest performances that sound far removed from Nirvana or Pixies. His latest album, Believers , has just been released via Fat Possum Records to an eager throng of admirers, and it continues to boast a new and improved Bondy sound.
In a past interview with Baeble, Bondy says that the object of his music “is to cross the line at which you become responsible for a sound or a world that people can visit.” This is very apparent all throughout Believers. The album starts off with a dark groove called “The Heart is Willing,” immediately delivering dreaminess and depth that moves away from the more straight forward folk sound of 2009’s When The Devils Loose. It elicits the sinister, transcendent rock of Imaad Wassif’s The Voidist, but it’s distinctly softer around the edges.
Bondy continues with an overall consistent compilation of smooth and moody tracks that would be perfect for an all-night drive over wet country roads or a make-out session between hopeful, yet jaded, lovers. These songs are dreamy and lush. “Skull & Bones” stands out as the essence of the album. It has great momentum, with low guitar picking, vocals that strain with lament, and undertones that sound like distant bursts of fresh air or rolling waves.
“Hiway/Fevers” is another sexy, slow number. The lyrics hover just above consciousness, evoking beautifully primal images with lyrics like, “move with the hunted,” “turn in the moonlight/by some river,” and “out of a fever/watching the dawn begin.” The breakdown with its swooping guitar picking and ascending punctuation is breathtaking—a microcosm of Bondy’s proclivities.
The album ends with a soundscape lullaby, “Scenes From a Circus,” in which Bondy croons, “how are you dreaming?” It feels like Bondy is demanding that the listener let go and float away, from his own sound and others. Comparisons can be misleading or limiting, but for Bondy they amplify his strengths—beautiful elements borrowed from the likes of Ryan Adams, Cass McCombs, Willy Mason and Imaad Wassif, among many others, combine in a multitude of emotional dexterity, desperate and hopeful, observant and forlorn.