When Dearist released This House Has No Windows in 2015, it’s no surprise that quite a few people were taken aback. Other than some highly-publicised praise from Touché Amoré’s Jeremy Bolm and Thursday’s Geoff Rickley, this was a band to whom so many were going into blind, and yet with a grungey emo core as rich and powerful as theirs, that debut remains tragically under-appreciated to this day. Even with the best part of the last two years spent touring and sharing stages with some of the UK’s fastest rising up-and-comers, Dearist still seem to be flying under the radar for far too many.
By all rights then, Sonder should be the moment where people finally start taking notice. This is a much bigger, more accessible album than their debut, but without forgoing the ten-tonne pathos that can craft such intense, gut-wrenching moments. The darkness here is palpable, even greater in its exploration of the lives of random passers-by that are just as complex and turbulent as our own. It’s at times a staggering body of work, often producing what are among the best emo songs of 2018 thus far.
What’s more, that’s purely through the emotional labour that Dearist go through on this album. Boiled down to the most basic instrumental level, this isn’t much more than a continuation of their debut, or indeed any number of modern emo and alt-rock bands, but it’s the sense of stakes that elevates Sonder over the top. Guitars churn and drums crash with tension and might on a track like Demuto, and Adam Binder’s rough-hewn vocals contort into unrefined roars that drip with raw power. Even better is on Essex 1820 or Shame, where those ideals are implanted in the sort of building-sized alt-rock jams you’d get from a band like Hundred Reasons in their prime, replete with the sort of full-throated hooks that would sound incredible coming from only the biggest venues. The total lack of frills or gimmickry just cements Dearist as truly excellent songwriters on their own merits, with Sonder being the near-perfect culmination of all their efforts.
It really is enough to wonder why Dearist aren’t some all-encompassing alt-rock juggernaut they should rightfully be, particularly when they can run circles around some of the occupants of that title in terms of hook crafting ability and sheer emotional force. Sonder mightn’t be the most original album, but it still takes what it’s got and bleeds it dry, to the point where it’s as open and vulnerable as they come, but still towers all the same. With any luck, this will be the moment where Dearist hit their commercial stride; they certainly deserve it.
For fans of: Hundred Reasons, Basement, Lower Than Atlantis
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Sonder’ by Dearist is released on 27th April on Spartan Records.