Photo by Kyle Dean Reinford
Wisconsin’s Phox deftly carved out a name for themselves in the folk-pop world with their charming 2014 debut album. The group’s lead vocalist, Monica Martin, has since tinkered with new outfits, including a more synth-friendly collaboration with multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Jeremy Larson, aka Violents. The two-piece, referred to simply as Violents and Monica Martin, is prepping its first-ever album titled Awake and Pretty Much Sober.
Scheduled for release on April 28th via Partisan, the 10-track collection takes listeners through the various stages of a relationship — the butterflies-in-the-stomach beginnings, volatile ends, and everything in between. For an album whose focal point is human connection, creative chemistry is vital, and it’s apparent that theirs comes naturally. When recording together, they work as though they were filming on a movie set, as a press release notes, “with Martin starring as the lead actress and Larson — a man who’s always done his best work behind the scenes — pulling triple-duty as screenwriter, director, and crew.”
Today brings a new preview of Awake, and thus a new window into the inner workings of a human bond. On “Unraveling”, Larson and Martin recount the moments when the thread that’s supposed to hold a relationship together starts to come undone. Often times, this breakdown is all weaponized in the mind, the result of both overthinking and not thinking clearly enough. “Wide-eyed wonder, where did you go?/ I’m unraveling/ Pagan cynic, constant critic, friend to a foe/ I’m unraveling,” sings Martin, her lovely, lightweight vocals buoyed by a slow sway that’s equal parts romantic and a harbinger of the the collapse to come. Larson also provides the kind of icy, sparse piano arrangement that you’d find in a countryside-set French drama about a hot love suddenly gone cold.
In a statement to Consequence of Sound, Larson explains the song’s backstory:
“As someone who has been in a committed relationship with the same person for more than a decade, I have seen the dark patterns that a relationship can drift into over time. The years can turn your thoughts and energies inward, and you become consumed only with how and if your own needs are being met. It is this kind of selfish meditation that will almost always turn your number one ally into your nemesis.
I’ve seen this in my own life, in my own relationships. This song was written out of the realization that it is not the relationship itself that is deteriorating in most cases. A person’s actual internal self and selfishness are what is causing an unraveling of your most valuable and treasured relationships. A good honest look inward has been the key in my marriage to sustained happiness, and a productive partnership. I always remind myself that the person that sits opposite of me in an argument at home, is the same person I need in my corner the very next day.”
Stream “Unraveling” down below via the YouTube stream or Spotify.
To support the album, the duo will play its first New York show on April 26th at Rough Trade Records.
Awake and Pretty Much Sober Artwork:
Awake and Pretty Much Sober Tracklist:
01. Awake and Pretty Much Sober
02. Line Lie
03. How It Left
06. Second Class
07. Equal Powers
10. It Won’t Stop