Australia: a brown, harsh land filled with animals and insects that will kill you; politicians that will take your pension and bands that will melt your heart. Although their name is draped in ambiguity, this four-piece alt-rock band from Brisbane definitely know their cause with their debut album What it is to be. The Comfort signed to Greyscale records to release this ethereal, spacey, dreamlike album; It’s hard to have a high point on a record when the whole thing sounds like it was recorded in the clouds.
Album opener “Heavy Heart” really sets the tone for the rest of the album’s 10 tracks. It really feels like The Comfort left their soul bare on these songs as lead vocalist / guitarist Liam Holmes’ airy, gentle vocals easily flow into epic soaring melodies over intertwined flourishes of guitar and slow moving bass lines. These guys are clearly taking influence from bands reaching as far back as Joy Division and The Smiths. They’re also touching on modern bands like Ambleside, Emarosa and even My Chemical Romance.
Singles “Dissolve” and “Misery” roll into each other like euphoric yet melancholic chunks of poetic pieces of art. The band are clear with their thematic intentions; they definitely want you to feel deeply and feel quickly. Listening to a band like The Comfort is akin to locking eyes with a green-eyed beauty at a party and knowing full well that they’ll break your heart but going over to instigate a conversation anyway. If you don’t let your heart swell and burst every now and then, what good is it?
Let’s talk about the album highlight that sits like a jewel in the centre of the album. “Always Tired” is not only an accomplishment for The Comfort; it’s a testament to their ability to layer their instruments and vocals to build a song so addictive you’d think it’d kill you. Lyrically ambiguous and vocally heartbreaking, this song could be played a thousand times and you’d never get sick of it.
What it is to be is overall a puzzle placed gently together for your listening pleasure. Lyrically the band touch on a diverse range of mournful retrospection and uplifting optimism. Much like most of the best post-punk bands, The Comfort match the lyrics sonically with washy, moving soundscapes. A retrospective smorgasbord of self-loathing, yet uplifting and almost hopeful lyrics really help this band ram home the emotional weight of What it is to be.
The production on this album is lavish and sparse. The songs would fit with any radio-friendly fodder or Triple J “banger”; even a Sunday morning music program that your parents have on in the background while they read the paper. Fortunately we know that The Comfort has a much deeper emotional well. Album closer “Sanctuary (La Busqueda Del Espiritu)” sounds like it belongs in your favourite indie movie right when the main protagonist realises they had what it takes all along to ask that person out or take that leap. “I am not the sum of my mistakes” croons Liam and we as listeners can’t help but believe him.
When a band this young can offer up an emotionally weighted album like this, you know that they have a bright future ahead of them. The Comfort better invest in some decent sunglasses.
Stand-out tracks: “Reach out”, “Dissolve”, “Always Tired”.