album: Learning How to Talk - Mess
words: Kayla Carmicheal
Learning How to Talk, the debut record from Kansas City band Mess begins in a dreamlike fashion. Aided with an acoustic guitar, the record unweaves itself through the slow state of “Becoming” before rolling into the heavy drum beats of “Dead Space”. As the lyrics explore building the courage to open fully into the details of one’s pain, we are greeted with the record’s theme: exploring the impact an unhealthy relationship can have on someone.
Wavy guitars follow from this song into the next, single “Cave”. Ever see a friend going through so much to the point where everything you do seems hopeless? “Cave” uses steady percussion and acoustics to drive this emotion home in tune with its lyrics. Vocalist Allison Gilesman repeatedly suggests, “Don’t you think it’s time to call it off?” in a caring vocalistic tone that immediately resonates with you. It’s as if you’re being begged by the singer to attempt something new to get out of that painful state.
“Godsend” brings a tone of vibrance musically, using the electric guitars in a sound that’s almost spiritual. Shimmering acoustics then follow throughout. “Drown” unfolds in a similar way until its massive conclusion. “Please carry me all the way” is spread over “Body Parts”, a song delving giving into weakness with each chord, while “Whole Again” wishes to see that weakness dissipate. The smooth duet is an anecdote that chronicles separate reactions to a broken loved one.
To end the record, the band leaves you with a heartbreaking one-minute track the chronicles the moving out and moving on of someone who deserves to. As the record draws to a close with the last few chords of “Boston,” the consistent theme of Learning How to Talk leaves you feeling somewhat comforted. It’s often difficult to watch the person you love contend with pain, but Mess turns the darkness into a beautiful musical exploration.