Between the Richness begins and ends with E.E Cummings “[i carry your heart(i carry it in mine].” In the poem, Cummings holds love close without faltering. The poem borders on becoming saccharine, shying away from any mention of the burden that comes with such an act. Perhaps he feared that his poetry would be weighed down by the heft and drudgery of love. Namely grief. This fear is unfounded by Fiddlehead on their new record Between the Richness.
Fiddlehead takes Cummings’ assuredness with them as they dig through the darkest and lightest moments that come with loving another person. The album opens with Cummings reciting his poem on the track “Grief Motif.” His voice and sentiments are lilting, but the band excitedly pulls his words to the Earth. Guitars that sound familiar on post hardcore records and steady drumming quickly set a pace for singer Patrick Flynn, who has a newfound ease in his voice as he shouts about falling apart. The transition from this track to the next is seamless including the twin lyrical focus of reveling in sorrow.
The lyricism continues to draw back to Cummings through the length of the album, with words seldom used in modern English penned across lines to refine gruff and expected vocals from Flynn. Fiddlehead hasn’t done anything particularly inventive when it comes to playing or vocal style, but they wear their old sounds well, and the risks that they do take mostly fit. Spoken word passages and more spacious production elevate the grief and wanting that the band push through in the short run time of 25 minutes.
Each instrument can be picked out by ear, even on tracks like “Life Notice.” A woman speaks about losing a friend to the opioid epidemic and the band laments behind her. They leave just enough room to let her share story, but play desperately to reflect the hopelessness of the situation.
After sweating through “Life Notice,” the band mellows out and Patrick Flynn calls to his young son. The inhale of new life after drowning in that which has been lost feels like lying in warm sand after a near-death experience. The track is as sweet and melodic as the band are willing to get before once again taking us under to close out the album on the record’s highest point. “Heart to Heart ,” the closer, is the longest song on Between the Richness at over 4 minutes. Flynn’s voice has more equal stake with the rest of the band here. The performance is by far the most lively and aggressive on this track. And when the dizzying guitars slow in passages, it is only a brief mediation.
It’s the band’s final statement on love and loss. The lyrics are almost directly pulled from “i carry your heart,” but the heavy sound shows that the weight of love has not lessened. Thankfully the energy the band expends shows that they are fully capable of holding a heart in spite of pain. Cummings’ voice is heard again at the end of the album. His kind words feel aspirational, echoing Fiddlehead’s resolve to hold love fast.