Rosey Bengal’s eponymous album is a road trip, on a spooky nighttime ride down misty, winding mountain roads andlonely highways. It’s raining and you’re sad, not because you have anything to be sad about but because it sometimes feels good to be a little sad when it’s rain
ing. And also because Rosey Bengal knows how to make being sad feel so good.
The trip opens with “You Can Run,” a soulful, sensual, bluesy start to a gratuitously gloomy drive. “You can run/But you’ve got nowhere to go,” the chorus goes. FUCK YEAH, you say. BUT I’M GOING ANYWAY. You’re pumped. The album matches your mood with up-tempo tracks with crisp percussion on tracks like “Virginia” and the danceable “It’s Alright.” Song after song speaks of running away and empty highways, the call of the open road. THESE GUYS TOTALLY GET IT, you say. The band can’t hear you, but that’s okay. They get it.
By the time “Bright & Clean” comes on, things are getting a little spooky. It’s the lap steel guitar that does it, accompanied by Evan Luberger’s softly emotional vocals. The atmospheric sound makes this a nice time to get real with yourself, get some shit off your chest. “One time I ate a bug,” you confess to no one. “It wasn’t even on a dare or anything. I just ate it to see what it would be like. It was crunchy. In a bad way.” You’ve never told this to anyone before. It feels good to say it out loud, but you still feel bad about yourself all through the delicate instrumentation and beseeching harmonies of “Against the Wall.” As you should. You’re disgusting. You don’t deserve to listen this lovely, haunting song. But you do, anyway. And by the time the lilting of “Perfect Recess” drifts in, you feel a little better. Healed, almost. Not quite, but almost.
Such is the power of Gloomy Music.
It’s almost dawn when you return home. Somewhere around “Heaven’s Sake,” the tone shifted from satisfyingly melancholy escapism to quiet introspection, and it made you turn around and head back. There’s a tension between the pull of escape and the desire to stay, to believe there might be something worth staying for. “Thing’s ain’t gonna be easy/things ain’t always good,” Luberger sings in the final track, “Keep Me Company.” This song ends the album on a simple, hopeful note: “Take my hand/Keep me company when I get tired.” All of this will happen again. You’ll grow restless and drive through the night. But every time, you’ll find a reason to come back. For a while, at least.
Thank you, Rosey Bengal, for bringing me on this journey.
Carrie is N.J. Racket's copy editor and contributor of many album and EP reviews. She also has a puppy named Halo and loves Mac N Cheese.
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