The Basement Society: Lonelyhearts

Formed in June of 2016, The Basement Society hails from Youngstown, Ohio—a small city located someplace between Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Claiming a wide range of influences from Sufjan Stevens to Twenty One Pilots, it’s clear the members of this Midwestern acoustic-pop trio hold artistry of many types close to their hearts, and a listen through their debut EP, Lonelyhearts, echoes the group’s collective desire for honest music and songs that ooze with the all-too-often commercially repressed unpleasantness of reality. Such a desire being the central passion of Gluten Free Radio, to resist publishing a write-up on their music would be futile.

To be perfectly honest from the start, Lonelyhearts is lovely. The EP begins with a track entitled “Me and You,” which kicks off with a lively yet casual drum beat that makes for a perfect introduction to the listening experience that is The Basement Society. Then comes the lighthearted acoustic guitar. But what really caught my attention were the vocals of Juliet McCowin. The percussion drops out, and in its place rises a smooth, refined, beautifully distinct voice that sings such melancholy lyrics over the playful acoustic backdrop:

People are sending me Get Well Soon balloons
You're breaking my heart, and I'm building my own cocoon
The flowers of my corsage died
But we slow-danced 'til I lost my mind

The EP continues on with its bleak lyricism and switches over to more subdued supporting music with its next song, “Couch Cushions.” On this track, McCowin tells the well-known tale of a directionless relationship while painting it in the cold light of nearly apathetic surrender rather than from the more clichéd perspective of melodrama. In fact, each song in this little collection seems to be written from the mindset of a different stage of grief. “Me and You” speaks out of frustration, which turns to apathy in “Couch Cushions” before becoming regret and sorrow in the final two tracks, “Weather” and “August Song.”

It may sound dark. It may sound depressing. I probably just turned you off to the whole idea unless you’re a moody teenager. But believe me when I say that, in the end, Lonelyhearts is comforting in its ability to make you relate to the messages of The Basement Society and remind you that you aren’t the only one on this earth who struggles with apathy, regret, or frustration. And though it is difficult to pinpoint and clearly explain, there is a certain undertow of hope that runs through these songs in the form of its percussion and harmonies. Sarah and Matt McGuire add the perfect elements of balance to Juliet’s narrative tone, which leaves me excited to hear more from this real and vulnerable trio.