“Après moi, le déluge”
The phrase reportedly spoken by Louis XV after his loss at Rossbach has come to be seen as a careless reflection while standing on the precipice of violent change – “After me, the flood.” – a forecasting of revolution, a sense of nihilistic solipsism about the world after one’s own exit from it, or perhaps a grandiose sense of one being the axis around which the world revolves.
Recorded at guitarist Ben Green’s Washington DC studio, Ivakota, and partially at Jay Littleton’s studio in Houston during the COVID 19 pandemic, Deluge is Fairweather’s first release since their self-titled album in 2014.
Continually, the theme of the record asks “what is required of us?” after the flood – whichever it may be, a collective flood of public experience, or our own personal upheaval. What duties do we forgive in times of crisis, and which must harden and become inured in us?
Sonically, it is a departure from their last record’s raw and straightforward sound, and a return to a form more reminiscent of 2003’s Lusitania. The addition of longtime friend and collaborator Nick Barkley to bass, and moving Ben Murphy to third guitar gave the band an opportunity to create a record more dynamic and with more melodic interplay than any time in their history. The result is four songs of sprawling length nearly as long as their previous full length.
From the opening clarion wail of “Untethered” it is clear the album is serious about turning expectations on their heads. Where their last record opened with a one minute blast of punk speed, this one is a six and a half minute dirge. Jay Littleton’s vocals glitter above the pummeling pace, almost untouched by the tumult below him.
“No Safe Corners” is the band at their darkest and most secretive. There is a tragedy to the bittersweet choruses, “treading in this water/but you know what I need/one second for another” . It is a requiem to losing your hold on reality, on your family. The vocals weave in and out of different identities, both addressing the other, calling into question identity and inner monologue.
A brutish punch of a song, “Pass of Redress”, is about broken foundations, structures which have been crumbling from their inception, leading to ruin and decay when stressed, and “Control” is a monochromatic trudge, barreling towards the record’s decisive end.
As a band from the nation’s capitol, and working in a studio just 10 blocks from the US Capitol building, which was invaded as the record was being finalized in early 2021, their writing gives the record a unique marriage of the public and the personal, a feeling of being at a fulcrum. The Deluge here lives on two different levels; the onslaught of trauma, information, images, and ideas that washed over us during the past several years, and the lush arrangements of the record, being buried in the midst of either.