Have you ever experienced an indescribable déjà vu when listening to an album? So much so that the album doesn’t even make that big an impression on you the first time around, but you end up thinking about it for days going through every song and every album you’ve ever heard just to find what that album you listened to sounded like?
That is what happened when I listened to New Design’s album Far From Home. I was driven insane for days after the first listen just trying to figure out what it reminded me of. It wasn’t until I saw a picture of my late mother and remembered a summer I spent broken hearted, writing shitty fiction in my basement room, listening to Mae that I figured it out.
Far From Home sounds like everything Mae ever released. If you took all of the albums of the Virginian band and made a super album that sounds like their best work, you would get something very similar to New Design’s release.
Now don’t you dare mistake my comparison and assume I am saying Far From Home is boring or in any way bad, because it is not. There is a reason I spent a summer being a goblin in the basement listening to one band and one band only. That music resonates with me and the broken heart of the eighteen-year-old I once was. The tempo of the songs on the album is pretty equal throughout, and to say that all the songs on the album are cohesive would be an understatement. The style of each song is so similar that it could sound like one long track if it weren’t for each song fading out at the end.
New Design uses their members’ strengths perfectly. Though I am usually more a fan of the high speed, erratic drumming, I have a deep appreciation for the work done by Zachary Cattapan on this album. From the long drum roll on “There Is No Safe Place,” to the creative use of cymbals throughout the album, his playing is excellent throughout the entire release. The use of bass player, Melissa Angilletta’s voice, which complements the voices of the two other string instrumentalists, gives the vocals on the album a ghostly, near ethereal feeling.
The album is best enjoyed in one sitting, but if you must absolutely pick and choose the songs you want to listen to, I would suggest giving “The Things We Can’t Forget,” “So Long,” and “What We Already Knew” a listen, or ten. Nothing will put your heart in a vice quite like a honeyed voice singing “I know it’s something that you want me to do, but I just can’t believe in you.”
In the end, what Far From Home is, other than an amalgam of Mae-sounding songs, a very solid, slow, and heart wrenching album that you simply have to listen to, though the humid summer months filled with flings and fun might not be the best time to really immerse yourself in it.
Wait until the days are shorter, the leaves dead and crunchy on the ground, the air smelling like the smoke of a thousand people’s fireplaces. Wait until your feel blue and gloomy. Wait until your heart has gotten truly fucked up and smashed into smithereens. Only then will you be able to truly appreciate the strangely therapeutic effect of the soft, calm, and layered album that New Design has created for all your curative needs.
Written by Kai Robidas
*edited by Danielle Kenedy