After a lengthy period of quiet, Introvert‘s Mending Breaking era is a welcome one. The six tracks of the newly released EP share snapshots of emotional and mental health challenges, and the uphill climb of recovery. These songs and their meanings may give insight as to what life has been like behind the scenes for the Newcastle band, and perhaps why their collective silence was how it was.
EP opener “Find A Way” is one heck of an ice-breaker for the Mending Breaking era though; its crystal clear self sets an unexpectedly shining tone. It’s vocally bright and light too, which blew my mind upon first listen, as I was expecting something very… not this.
“Find A Way” comes across as magical and heartwarming, before gradually gaining strength and grit. As the song flows through its verses, “Find A Way” unfolds as reflection and observation. With its unifying harmonies and growing intensity, the song is easy to immerse in and feel as if you’re a part of it. Moments of determination (that are so far away from the clarity where we began) rain down along with punk forcefulness, and the blend of voices is just beautiful. Throwing in the line “You’re not alone” sparks a full-bodied reaction, from this listener/reviewer at least.
With vocalist Audie Franks in isolation and a hammering home from the drums, “Find A Way” speaks of persistence to try to improve, before shifting into a more relaxed (yet cautious) forward movement. Repeating this shift, it all comes across like a two steps forward and one step back progression that makes sense in terms of recovery or healing.
Yep, I’m going on and on here because this song is fucking great, to put it bluntly. Moments like the pared back bridge with the call of “You need to let me in” and its hand-clapping singalong encouragement are just perfect. It vibes like an invitation to drop the facade and allow people in to the truth of who you are, and the song just keeps on winning as far as my ears are concerned. It never settles in a sound for long enough to feel complacently comfortable, and keeps the listener engaged the whole time.
Emotionally, it’s real and raw at “No matter where you hide..” and is both felt and heard instrumentally. It’s frankly tough to see how this song could get any better. I love the gang vocals, and it’s as if Audie is yelling at himself while also encouraging change. Extremely relatable, I just want to sit back and let it all wash over me (or maybe wash me away, whichever comes first). Paring back to just the guitars and vocals toward the end, it comes across as greater seriousness to fucking DO something; to MAKE A CHANGE, instead of staying stuck and closed up and hiding what you’re going through!
The “Dreamers” melody arriving on the end of “Find A Way” in amongst the noise (instrumental AND mental noise, perhaps?) of feedback squeals is a really great way to flow into the next song. And what a melody it is! One that’s (again) all too easy to drift away into.
Flaring up into fierceness as the vocals kick in, “Dreamers” shares a flight-or-fight scene of chaos, capturing the internal battle and a scene of someone metaphorically drowning. The protagonist both calls for help as well as refuses it so as not to put others out. The song is like the inverse of the one before it, where instead of dropping the facade, it’s putting it up:
“Don’t waste your time on me, I’m fine. If only you could see through all of my lies.”
Tumbling down a rabbit hole of anxiousness while concurrently channeling angels with the sweet harmonies of the chorus, “Dreamers” is another stunning song from Introvert. It’s endearing end to end, with intimate admissions whispered, and fiery frustrations and fears ripping out. I love the raw edges shown by pinches/flares of guitar in amongst the multilayered song, where this anthem of coming undone is reinforced by every element. Peaking at its end with all its features and sounds combined, there’s something incredibly satisfying about “Dreamers”, not to mention its instrumental ‘last word’.
“As Long As You Know” starts cleanly and enticingly, but with its chorus it unfortunately feels a bit too much like ‘I feel like I’ve heard this before’, especially when the chorus includes “Bending, breaking” and the “Always…” rhythm or intonation makes me feel like I’m back with the “Don’t waste…” part of the chorus of “Dreamers”.
The verses are lovely though, gently unfolding and telling a story of conflict in the process. The climactic and defiant peak of “You can’t hurt me anymore” is perfect, and hits like a burning arrow that lays waste to history, as well as clearing the way for a different future without the hurt in it. It’s a bit like ‘Do your worst. I’ll overcome it!’, which in itself is an empowering and beautiful thing, even if I don’t easily vibe with the chorus.
The flow from this track into “Somewhere Else” is another shining moment for the EP; crashing cymbals herald the arrival of the next song and curtains of guitar feedback slowly part. It’s such a great singalong tune, much like an anthem for the socially anxious. Standing confidently on the EP, “Somewhere Else” is memorable long after the ears have savoured it. As the tracks before it, Introvert use instrumentation well to capture the discomfort and chaos of the experience, as well as making it an enjoyable take at the same time. [If you’re interested, I went into a lot more detail on this song over HERE.]
Title track “Mending Breaking” keeps the angst up, coming at ears with feedback tinged tension as well as hooking melodies. There’s a mood related tug-of-war between the verses and the choruses, reflecting the same back and forth that’s shared in the lyrics as well as is found in the cycle of mending and breaking. But even in those smaller parts there’s a duality, such as the chorus in particular that’s both loose and feelgood AND carries obvious vocal frustration. It’s not as satisfyingly “YES” as other songs on the EP for me, but it’s a strong song nonetheless and flows easily through its multifaceted self.
Mending Breaking‘s last track “All I Know” eases back on the accelerator somewhat and the song impacts like a softening of the rest of the EP. Its more passive nature echoes the weariness that comes of reflecting upon a relationship that’s disintegrated and has left someone in a state of loneliness and emptiness.
The (“It’s not your fault. It’s all I know.”) harmonies don’t land as deftly as others on the EP did for me, and have a slightly jarring effect. However, I wondered if this feeling may be exactly what the band are going for, especially when the bridge lands with an uncomfortable rawness, much like a man who has come undone.
“All I Know”‘s last minute and its light melody tumbles refreshingly, like rain finally coming after feeling heightened atmospheric pressure promised a storm for some time. Though the chorus is repeated with the same sentiment throughout, the forgiveness of it marks a quiet ending to this chapter for the protagonist. A final release without fanfare, and the steady and static ending is all that’s left.
From my first listen of Mending Breaking, I was wowed at what I was hearing. Though Introvert have released great songs prior to this (“Everything Is Different Now”, for one example), Mending Breaking is like a whole other sonic chapter and a significant step up. It’s like they’ve stepped out of the garage and into another world which is richer of atmosphere and creative polish.
With this, I feel that Introvert have progressed significantly without diminishing the raw and real emotional impact that their music has always had. Mending Breaking takes us into the experience of struggle and manages to share it relatably while offering a sense of unity and hopefulness too.
There should be far far more conversation about this band and the music they make, and Mending Breaking may well be the EP that inspires that to happen.
I didn't like the "Wait, haven't I heard this already?" moments. Caution may be needed to not fall into easy patterns.
Wake up, breathe fresh air; a new world of Introvert is upon us. Far more immersive and impressive than I expected, with catchy and heartfelt moments throughout.