HELP’s full-length debut (the highly anticipated follow-up to their self-titled EP of 2019) 2053, is here with a vengeance. Recorded at the Map Room in Portland, OR with seasoned producer Sonny DiPerri—a major force who’s worked with the likes of Portugal. The Man, Animal Collective, and Dirty Projectors—this project is heavy, polished, and ready for market.
In an era of mounting social anxiety, ever-increasing political divide, and palpable hopelessness permeating even the most resilient of circles, 2053 urgently calls for a carving out of time and space in which to experience and express collective despair. The album serves as an invitation to reach down in and offer up one’s retched and festering angst for “these trying times” as a soul-cleansing sacrifice to a world that realistically cannot be saved, as the band suggests.
2053 starts off hard and heavy with tracks like “Ultra Violent Ones” and “Sound and Vision,” serving somewhat as an initiation, grabbing the listener by the jugular and forcing a listen. The sound of the album is immediately erected, like an impenetrable wall—infused with booming bass and inspired guitar—that surrounds the impassioned lyrics of inflamed front man Ryan Neighbors. The album proceeds into intricate cadences, veering from punk towards metal and beyond, showcasing long-time drummer Bim Ditson’s versatility, brute strength and unwavering endurance. The experience is peppered with abrupt, yet necessary energetic releases, as well as maneuvers that blatantly digress from the primary emotions of the album.
Tracks such as “Fire and Ashes and Shit” and “Apple of my Eye” move in more swaying, open ways. They offer the listener moments of negative space, as well as welcomed tones of failed (yet earnest) effort and repentance amongst the rubble. Neighbors explains that the lyrics are “about everything falling apart around us as humans.” There is a lot to mourn. 2053 is rife with contempt for baseless religious and political injury from “a house that barely tolerates humans,” leading to the culminating message in the album’s final track. It is one of surrender and acceptance, concluding, “it’s all still a sight to behold.”
Like the rest of HELP’s explosive material, this album is clearly meant to be consumed in the flesh. “It was a real bummer to release music you have been working very hard on and not be able to play it live and sweat all over the place,” says Neighbors. A few singles, including stand-out track “One Small Problem,” were released with accompanying videos, helping to reveal the energy of the band’s live performance.
Fortunately, HELP is back on stage, thrashing and smashing, conjuring catharsis and crucifying complacency. They welcome new bassist Morty Moore and join other hard-hitting local bands on the esteemed Nadine Records. Catch them wreaking havoc at Bunk Bar 3/18, for their album release show with ABQ band, Prism Bitch. Next is a mini-tour with the flaming-hot Spoon Benders, complete with a stopover in Boise, ID for Treefort Music Fest.