Holyoke-based Behold! True Believers combines genres that you wouldn’t initially think would pair well together — pop punk, alternative rock, psychedelic pop, doo-wop, and experimental rock. This synthesis of influences works surprising well on the sextet’s recent 11-track album, Broken Bow, released on Nov. 21.
The band is composed of Aaron Borucki (songwriting, guitars, synths, programming, percussion, vocals), Mike Benoit (drums, percussion, vocals), Dylan Makowski (piano, organ, rhodes piano, synth, vocals,) Aaron Knapp (bass), Madeline LaPorte (keys, vocals,) and Justin Broussard (guitars.)
The song “Hollow” kicks-off with a groovy bass line before mutating into a shimmering indie rock song with contrasting group vocals. This song shows off an experimental mix of surf rock, synthesizers, and distorted electric guitar. One of the most interesting dynamics is hearing Borouki’s breathy Nick Drake-like vocals meld with LaPorte’s higher pitched vocals reminiscent of Natalie Merchant from alternative rock group, 10,000 Maniacs.
“Planet X” is a hard rocking pop punk tune that would make Green Day envious. The group chants in this song evoke a sense of freedom from the humdrum of daily life. There’s plenty of 1990s teenage angst that this song taps into that conjures images of walking through crowded high school hallways.
“Isn’t it strange how we’re all here?/ And we’re also here?/ How did we get to this space?/ And where are we going?” Borucki sings with a sense of disillusionment on the opening verse. The song seems to be about feeling like you’re living on another planet apart from the rest of society.
“Hz Donut” starts off with a descending riff, before jumping into a catchy punky riff. The song shifts near the end to a mixture of pop punk and power pop with epic chordal distorted sweeps. It’s like Weezer meets the Who, but with a hint of Flight of the Conchords.
“Be Home Soon” is a ballad with impressive group vocals combined with a damn catchy guitar line. However, the lyrics can be repetitive at times and fall a little flat at conveying an impactful idea to listeners. These are lyrics that don’t really wax poetic. They work if you’re playing straight punk rock, but the art punk sentiments of the music don’t go that deep when it comes to the lyrics.
“I said that’s what I meant to say/ I said that’s what I’m saying/ I stayed up for the rest of my life/ All effort in the rest of this night/ It’s not often you end up like this:/ A shot to win the highest bid.”
The record closes with “Hypo (Apologetic),” an experimental folk rock outlier in an otherwise pop-punk driven album. The inventiveness on this song with intricate soundscapes evokes driving through a wintry forest. The only drawback to this song is Borouki’s vocals, which strain at times, singing melodies that are more atmospheric and angular than instantly captivating.
“Broken Bow’s” strength is its experimental mixture of genres and chorus of voices that blend together to create a sense of camaraderie and solidarity. The weakest points are the enigmatic lyrics that don’t add that much to the music. Ultimately, Behold! True Believers is a band that’s hard to pin down, and that’s something to be grateful for to keep you coming back to listen.
Broken Bow is available to listen to or purchase at https://beholdtruebelievers.bandcamp.com/album/broken-bow
Chris Goudreau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.