Harking back to the days when I used to sit there with my big box of Crayola crayons, I often tried to understand the big difference between red orange and orange red. I understand that it has to do with the amount of red in each. But when you just read the words, it didn’t make sense. It was like saying “yummy good” as opposed to “good yummy”. Did the words mean something different in reverse order?
These days I understand that it’s more similar to the juxtaposition of happy-sad and sad-happy. I won’t go into my distinction between the two. I’ll rather just say that Quilt by Backwords is very much a sad-happy album.
The band is more or less a pop band that incorporates some Southern rock to it. But between Brian Russ’s vocals, which give a garage band feel to it, and the emo-like quality of the titles and lyrics, it is safe to say that the songs are more sad-happy.
Nothing wrong with that. It’s a mix that works quite well. The music is poppy, even if in a soft way. It’s the whole jam band feel of the band. They play in the background, but playfully. They’re not stuck on over indulging any one sound. Everything mixes together nicely. Musically, its a joyful album that you can skip to, tap your toes to, it’ll definitely put a little oomph in your step.
But then the vocals remind you that Russ is being serious yet goofy. Take “In the Air & on the Ground” where Russ admits “In the air and on the ground are things that I have found. Things you that you would not believe. If you gave me one more wish I’d wish to not exist in the state that you know me now.” He sings in a voice that reminds me of someone whispering quietly in a high pitch. It gives the impression that he’s not very confident, but that just goes along with the polar opposites of the music.
You see, while the overall tone is one that things are bad, but that’s not really bad, it does come off morose at the heart. Still his crooning carries a bit of hope in it leaving you feeling that things may get better. He’s no quitter, and neither is this album.
Quilt is an appropriate title. At the heart are some heavier themes that one can’t ignore. But they’re shrouded in cheerful music leaving one assured that this indeed a sad-happy state of affairs. Sadness has settled, but happiness is rocking all around it. Only a matter of time before that sad inertia snaps.
MP3: Backwords “Center of the Earth”