From the office to the tour bus, Stephanie Davin has spent every spare moment of her time writing what would become Descender, the debut album from Post Louis. Alongside her responsibilities as lead singer and one fifth of this experimental art-rock band, Davin worked endless hours in the corporate world; eventually breaking away from the machine to push the boundaries of her creative expression in a remote cottage in Wales.
Accompanied by songwriter/co-founder Robbie Stern, and without the distractions of working life, Davin would craft the foundations that would become Descender. When their material was presented to the rest of the band, each song structure would be meticulously deconstructed and reconstructed within the walls of the Sjømannskirken in Rotherhithe, becoming a kaleidoscope of angular guitar riffs, scuzzy pop melodies, and breezy soundscapes.
Opening track ‘Fishwife’ begins with Davin asking “How do you stop an overflow?” The uncertainty felt in the midst of a “bad patch” cresendoes into a cacaphony of surf guitar, pulsating basslines, and thunderous drum beats. “The angler man is sinking and the walls are rusting through and through and my love is green as the sea is blue because all I had I gave to you”
‘Stress Fracture’ features tenor saxophone, courtesy of Alex Hitchcock, tumbling over the backing vocals of guitarist Andy Stern – paralleling Davin’s emotional songwriting and off-kilter lead vocals –, whilst ‘Little Jack’ studies the pain caused by loneliness (and the wolves loneliness can create when mixed with sexual desire – “She says you’re gonna be a wolf some day”).
Don’t let the breezy intro to ‘Janaskie Pt I’ fool you… Adam Turner-Heffer’s punk rock basslines are as infectious as Mattis Moviken’s meticulous drum strikes, resulting in a thrashing big instrumental tidal wave that had me reaching for rewind. Its companion piece ‘Janaskie Pt II’, and the instrumental track ‘Labyrinthitis’, lead into the title track ‘Descender’; reflecting on the exhaustion of working long laborious hours and the effect this can have on your life – “I’m working now from evening till dawn / Sun rises up and then you are gone…”
The poetic lyrics of ‘Like Bad Dreams’ are followed by ‘Ghostwriter’ – an anomaly on Descender – which sees Andy take over lead from Davin with the opening line, “How did you stop that overflow?” However, it is ‘Winter Pollen’ that hits me hardest in the gut. When Davin was constructing this particular song, the Me Too movement was beginning to open many eyes to a world most of us were ignorant of. This bravery was followed by anger, exhaustion, but ultimately empowerment. ‘Winter Pollen’ reflects the urgency of this movement with a heavy guitar sound that provides the backdrop for Davin’s frustration. “I make music with my brothers and I love them so / But it’s hard not to be angry, hating all the time / When Brock Turner spends three months in prison for his crime / When somebody spikes my mother’s drink at our first show…”
Both ‘Angular Man’ and ‘December’ close the album; each track incorporating contrasting instrumentation. As Davin sings the final line of the album – “In my darkest hour I fear I’m not strong” – the underlying theme of the Descender becomes more apparent. A reflective and poignant collection on the exhaustion that comes with living.
Descender is out now.
Photo Credit: Maya Sacks