Remixes, re-releases, re-imagined songs. They’re a bit of a gimmick yeah? Throw something a little extra there, pare it back and make an acoustic version, and suddenly you have a whole new release without even trying too hard. That was my (kind of harsh) outlook/expectation before I was awake at 2:30am and hearing two new EPs of the re-imagined variety: Resolve‘s Stripped Down Sessions and Noija‘s Come Closer.
It’s a very interesting coincidence to me that two bands I respect greatly for their creative prowess had both decided to release re-imagined versions of their earlier releases (that I thoroughly enjoyed) both on the same day. 3rd August has Lyon based four piece Resolve revisit songs from Rêverie, AND also has Swedish four piece Noija give new life to songs from Colorblind. Both bands have also included another song not from the original release.
Coincidences aside, it was the listen that brings me here and wide awake and writing at 3:10am. I started with Resolve’s Stripped Down Sessions, for no particular reason, and just casually hit play on the EP in an insomnia-inspired visit of Spotify, remembering that the release was coming. From first track “Exposed”, I knew this was going to blow my expectations of a remix out of the water. I will be coming back to Noija in a whole other article/review.
As well as the first stripped down song, “Exposed” is also where Resolve’s Rêverie EP begins, so it’s easy on the ears for someone (ie. me!) who has played it frequently and knows the EP backwards and inside out. It also happens to be the first song that the band wrote. The original take of “Exposed” is brash and huge and intense, featuring poetic and also doomsday-esque wonderings. Exploring stress-induced uncertainties of life; sleepless and suffocated by pressure.
“I’m not sure that’s the right moment to write something
I just need to tell the paper how I feel”
“Exposed” in it’s re-imagined state though? Firstly Resolve have got it wrong by calling it “stripped down”. These songs may not have thunderous heaviness and may be crafted by lighter accents of acoustic guitar and swirling waves of notes wafting through the tracks, but there’s no feeling of sparseness or absence here. These aren’t basic acoustic renditions.
‘Stunning’ was my first thought while absorbing Resolve’s delicate cradling of their earlier creation and somehow making something impressively beautiful in its own way – while still confined within the original lyrics and structure. I’m blown away by how beautiful this is; the dreamy and light exploration of these pressures, painted by chimes and gentle percussion. And yet with the expansive choruses, we still feel the very real emotional weight coming across, both with Anthony Diliberto’s vocals and the band’s sound as a whole, completed by the Mariat brothers Nathan (drums), Robin (bass), and Aurélien (guitar). It pains me that this band isn’t more well known.
Listening to “Rapture” second on the EP, I’m just shaking my head and thinking ‘wow’. Resolve are freely creative within these songs that I’m already familiar with, accenting soaring guitar in a way that feels new, and bringing vocal richness with harmonies and layers. The creative exploration within what had seemed rock solid shows an impressive creativity to me, and I sit back and soak up the soaring and percussion-focused traversing of the topic of religious frustration. Tension is deftly created all the while with layers of sound, starkly empty spaces and echoes, and intertwining focus of piano and then guitar. “We won’t save this world with prayers” hangs in the air as the track closes.
By the time I’m listening to “Abyss”, I’m feeling unsure how to put what I’m feeling into words. In these stripped versions, Resolve are now tenderly sharing where thunderous anger previously was. As well as the sound itself changing, the sense of where it’s coming from seems changed: The fight and fury seems transmuted to compassion as “Just pick one: Blue or red pill” softly tumbles forth into a landscape painted by watercolour splashes instead of thick oil paint smears. Echoing voices and gentle guitars give space for thought and provide something deeper and softer for the listener to fall into.
There isn’t an absence of emotion though, with tension crafted by building guitar, warm presence of bass, and increasing vocal frustration, we still hear a flavour of the fury that tore through the original rendition of “Abyss”. The steady onward shuffling and slowly building outro is hauntingly and effectively done with repeats of the impactful lyric, and an eventual vocal breaking through to the surface:
“Aren’t you tired of watching yourself bleed?”
Resolve close Stripped Down Sessions with a cover of Foo Fighters “Best Of You”. It’s a gutsy choice, being a song that people are so familiar with, and done so well originally. But it’s yet again a stunning take by the Lyonnais band and they’ve treated this song with as much reverence as their own creations; honouring the original and creatively taking it a new direction.
Anthony’s voice strongly reveals itself in the silence, seeming to send out ripples that are backed by strings, guitar and chimes. Vocal harmonies and more of a punch of force are stronger at the second verse, and as we hit the second chorus, Resolve paint such an aching picture of earnest expression that it could be easily mistaken as their own creation. Guitar solo swimming in harmonies and warm bass waves washing over us with the questioning chorus make for a very rich experience.
I loved my listens of this EP, which proved to be another shining star in the discography of Resolve. Stripped Down Sessions is as much a treat for fans of the band as it is a doorway in for new fans, showcasing what those familiar with the band already know and love about them and crafting four beautiful pieces of music. It’s creatively done with thoughtful expression of each element and I already know fans are going to be in love with what Resolve have done with these songs.
When a band takes songs you know and love and recreates them in unexpected ways, it's an indication of the skill and creativity they have. Very very well done.