There are no rules or guidelines by way of how we do reviews for Depth Magazine. Sometimes an album review is done in one powerful sitting. Other times albums ‘want’ listens for days before we begin the review. We’ve reviewed music on a train commute, at cruising altitude crossing the globe, out in the sunshine, at a desk, in a cafe, or tucked up in bed. Always with headphones. It’s a very unforced thing and we go with what feels right for the particular album.
With that said, the album Houses. by Florida indie musician Treis called for a review done in a mood of stillness and quiet. Even when I tried to do it before then, I couldn’t. It just wasn’t happening. Houses. wanted focused attention and a mood that was calm and peaceful. So that’s how it happened.
From Treis, on the album:
“Houses is a self-produced album about the three houses I lived in growing up, and the events that took place in them organized in chronological order from about 2007 – 2015.”
“Elegant Rain” is the first track on Houses. My first listen of this had me swept away to another place and away from the hecticness of life: Sitting watching raindrops roll down a window, with piano floating from ear to ear.
“One More” is next and is rich in heartache. It feels like the atmosphere of a room that you walk into and you know there’s been a fight. The fight is gone, but the tension remains. It is instrumentally heart-string tugging also.
“I’m leaving you this time.
I swear to God I made up my mind.
I think you should really know
I don’t have One More to give.”
“Just Friends” is a funky track, with the melody pushing on while the angsting and questioning goes on in the meantime. Listening to this felt pulled between being chipper and chilled and pained.
“Does it mean anything that you miss me?”
The track closing with the tempo brakes held down seems to clarify, resonating with the introduction and the same question echoing again and again. Does it mean anything?
“Cadillacs” was emotionally moving from the introduction; sweet days of reminiscing, but those days being gone and done. Skin left cold by warmness remembered but just not there anymore.
“Dealing with feelings like their meanings mean nothing because we can’t slow down.
Still reeling from the screeching cause we kissed and you said “I’ll still be around.”
We move on to “The View From The Porch” and I find the weight of these songs so heavy in their honesty and difficulty. The lightly strummed guitar’s sweetness contradicting the rawness communicated lyrically. Though the guitar sound is also very real and unpolished too. “The View From The Porch” is so beautiful vocally.
“Fall with me for once, make it worth a song.
It’s not a leap of faith if you don’t trust the jump.”
“Radio” is the next song and has such a deep resonance to its melody, down to my core. It’s that sense of feeling so much and being kept awake by memories, and this freedom of driving away from life (temporarily), just a road and a radio. For the moment it’s all okay.
Kill me. Death by feelings. “When I’m Older” is stabbing at me, so I’ll just surrender finally; falling into a stream of reminiscing, loving, honesty, things unsaid, feelings, deep and meaningful conversations, life and learning. With guitar and organ making both waves for changing and comfortable blankets.
“Townhouse” keeps sweetness of guitar and vocals but hits with drums you can’t miss. It feels tricky, confrontational, challenging. Like running away, or falling into dark depths.
“You can’t admit It’s hurting you”
When the drums build into a more spectacular sound along with brass and layered vocals, it feels like a turning point or a resolution.
“Bicycles” has a magnetic beat and curious chords. It’s catchy and light, yet still has this heavy heartedness to it.
“Our situation isn’t unique
It’s weird but I can barely breathe
When you moved the couch to see
What was underneath?”
“Remember” is a guitar interlude. It’s light, sweet but somehow foreboding too.
The next track is “Isaac” which is yet another track whose lightness belies its heaviness of emotion and meaning. Its sound is funkified with the combination of an organ as well as a relaxed beat. But the funky sound doesn’t lift the vocals and they feel drenched in confusion, relating to faith.
“You and I” is the next track, feeling like a fresh breeze through an open window. The vocals fade into the background while the beat commands attention. It feels like a curtain protecting tenderness, as though we’re a fly on the wall, holding our breath as we watch these two interact.
“Now we’re united. Your whispers in my mouth make me excited.
Our lips lock, it burns a lot and I’ve lost track of the clock.
Cover me in love. You make me feel like a person for once.
We talk all night. You infectious presence; You lovely parasite.”
“Summer” is the perfect title for this surreal sense of being out of reality and normal pattern. An experience sparking something exciting within, a magical moment, not wanting it to end.
“Us Two Lovers” uses light electro beats to express a sense of both awkwardness and rightness. Feeling like a wanting to dive in yet hesitation too. Produced by babyblu it has more polish, taking the rawness of Treis into different places. Inspiring a sense of being a ‘new man’ after the night is over.
“Don’t Take Me For A Fool” is a curious track, being either heavy in metaphor, or simply about the death of a rabbit and the people involved with the experience. Light guitar, and warm vocals speak along with impactful beats and the vibe is tension.
“May 23rd” is the last track of Houses. and uses deep heavy bass, slipping beats and morphed vocals to express a sense of intoxication, escaping, and the darkness that that reveals. It’s a potent closer to this collection of songs.
“Hold my hand!
Its part of the master plan!
If this is the end,
Thanks for being a friend!”
Houses. is a very real snapshot of life; a soundtrack of time passing for a human in modern life. The album has ever present meandering vocals as well as meandering structure. You won’t find the hard corners of verse-chorus-verse to lean into. Same as life itself doesn’t abide by hard rules, but is an experience of one moment flowing into the next and tender points of realness happening to us. Treis has captured life over the space of 8 years, without extravagance, exaggeration or fanfare. In its simplicity, this is something special.
Stream the whole of Houses. here.