It’s no secret that heartbreak often serves as the fuel for great songwriting, but I Was Totally Destroying It's John Booker initially channeled his post-breakup woes in a much different direction – tackling the entirety of Stephen King’s "The Dark Towers" series. Eight books, a romantic re-coupling with IWTDI co-vocalist Rachel Hirsch and an overwhelming desire to create an album with a pervasive, overarching mood later, Booker and his bandmates have returned with Vexations – arguably the band’s strongest, most cohesive offering to date.
Part "Dark Tower"-inspired concept album and part break-up record, Vexations is also an homage to musical favorites/influences like Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, U2 and The Cure. Of course, if you hadn’t been told all that you’d probably just think it was simply a dazzling pop-rock album by a promising indie band. And you’d be right; but after releasing several albums to critical acclaim, this time around IWTDI opted to reach for the stars – or at least push their own boundaries.
"In the past, all that Rachel and I had been good at was writing songs about a boy or a girl that you like or had a problem with, or about yourself – super introspective," Booker explains. "There’s definitely a different approach lyrically and mood-wise on Vexations. The parameters we placed on ourselves, compositionally, somehow managed to make the final product come out more dynamic and dramatic – a more wide-screen, universal take on what we've always been about."
Rather than going into what Booker jokingly refers to as "super-crazy-metal-concept-land," the band loosely used "The Dark Tower" as a springboard, weaving the series’ themes of obsession and commitment with their own stories. While the result is universal, "Dark Tower" fans will find plenty to obsess over – including deciphering which songs were inspired by or serve as theme songs for key characters in the series. (Interestingly, the song the band feels could have the most to do with "The Dark Tower" was a long-lost gem called "Save Your Life" – written by friend, Jamie McGoldrick, who has never read a single book in the series.)
Co-produced by Motion City Soundtrack guitarist Josh Cain and Polara’s Ed Ackerson, Vexations also features a guest vocal appearance by MCS’s Justin Pierre.
Available on CD, LP, and digital download.
2. Hello, Salty Ghost
3. Follow You
4. The Prisoner
5. Move So Slowly
6. My Internal Din
7. Save Your Life
8. Dust Up / New Perpetuum Mobile
9. Blood On Film
10. Give Them What They Want
11. Outside Blinds
12. Seasonal Low
Click links above for mp3s from this release.