04 June 2021 (released)
26 April 2021
When grunge broke 30 years ago, it let out a big repressed secret that had been stewing beneath the surface of the culture. People are depressed. So much so that a movement united millions across the globe in this realization that their dark thoughts were not happening only to them in some self-contained bubble. This wasn't just blues, a sadness of circumstance. This was existential. It eluded definition. The self-fulfilling prophecy of depression happens because an echo chamber of negative self-talk is set up and it can last a lifetime.
Blueanimal's lead vocalist/guitarist and songwriter Luke Elms sought to delve into this condition on the band's latest record Figment That Was Me. He explored the crippling effects of depression through the album's main character who navigates failed relationships and missed opportunities brought on by bad self-image, stigmatization, and the other deleterious consequences of the illness.
The album's lead single 'On My Mind' opens the album. Elms writes of how a defeat can send ripples through a person's consciousness, affecting their decisions for years to come. "On My Mind is the first track off the album and begins the character's descent into the depression that is further explored on the rest of the tracks. The track is an ode to the girl that got away on the surface, but below the surface, it is about that person, thing, or idea that we know will be with us until we die. We hope it is a positive influence but unfortunately for many people, it is a destructive or destabilizing force to their well-being and the catalyst to their deeper mental health issues”. The band harnesses the power of an Alice In Chains-inspired uneasiness in the music. Guitars bend and clench, drums pulse tensely. That brooding Cantrell sound is eerily pierced by Elms's low growling whisper-like voices in your head. Beautiful lines ebb and flow over the chorus as the narrator tries to track back to the root of his discomfort.
On the tracks 'Only a Man' and 'Rock Bottom' the band lands on a down the middle four on the floor alternative rock but Elms vocal choices and inflection recalls Metallica's James Hetfield when singing his less thrashy catalogue. 'What Does It All Mean' goes back to the hushed whispers as Elms asks “what am I so sad about” wondering what could possibly break the inescapable funk. In a triumphant burst, the narrator eventually finds a break in the clouds and for a moment is free. 'Because of You' drops the grunge edge for a vulnerable look at love through the eyes of a person with depression. It's not all dark, in fact, it's more like a mania where the highs are disorientingly euphoric and that's what makes any troubles seem monumental. 'Better Than This' rounds out the album with a dogged determination to fight past those crippling chains to get to higher ground.
Blueanimal's peek behind the curtain into the mind of the depressed is frank, honest, and tremendously revealing. The condition unfolds in so many seen and unseen ways that to the unaffected, it can be very difficult to grasp. Figment That Was Me uses those textures that Alice in Chains, Nirvana, and Soundgarden employed so well to get inside the indescribable feeling of being saddled with depression.