After several splits and singles, Burlington, Vermont’s Tyler Daniel Bean finally has a sophomore full-length follow-up to his 2012 LP, Longing. On Days Soon to Pass is a weighty album, full of that previously titled longing and need, and the oft-applied moniker of “heavy indie” has never been so appropriate. It’s as if one took the tone of early, Rites of Spring-style emo, and stripped out all the romantics and breakdowns, only to leave the incredible sense of loss.
This isn’t an easy one to listen to, let’s be clear. On Days Soon to Pass moves at the pace of a walk through deep snow — each step is a difficult one, and even a short trip will leave you feeling as if you’ve crossed an immense expanse. There are moments of brightness, to be sure: “Willow II” features the sweet vocals of Jessica Lynne McDermott issuing a reassurance that “it will be all right,” and Shannon Stott-Rigsbee’s violin stays just this side of plaintive.
“FFFA,” meanwhile, is almost jaunty, compared to the slowness of the other songs. It’s a rocker, comparatively, but even though the lyrics are seemingly positive — “I’m dealing with my fears,” “Growing comfortable with myself” — they’re about drinking whiskey to deal with the impending end of a relationship, and god damn, this is back to being a sad record. Really: it’s cathartic, and lord knows it’s really easy to relate to these songs, but it is bleak for the first half.
Just consider the fact that this came out in the middle of November, and it’s taken nearly two months to really come to grips with what’s presented here and communicate it to someone else. On Days Soon to Pass is not a record which gets tossed on the turntable and spun while putting together some pasta for dinner — it’s an album which quietly commands your attention for its full duration, and will ask a lot of you as it turns.
The upside to all this? By the end of the second side, and the final lines of “All At Once,” there’s this sense of release and acceptance. The song’s conclusion — “you chose/to carry me home/To thaw me/in your arms/You are everything, all at once/and I’m ready” — will leave you bawling after the emotional journey on which Bean and his musical compatriots have taken you. It’s a travail, but so very worth it.
On Days Soon to Pass is so quiet, it could easily be naught but whispers, but the engineering and mixing by Ryan Stack, with assistance from Joe Cross, makes this record a small roar. The instrumentation feels like a corralled wild animal, kept calm by the promise of an impending meal. It’s slow, and measured, but there’s so much power in the players’ restraint. It’s matched by Bean’s vocals, and the entirety of this album is just a sonically glorious piece of work.
The cover art by William Schaff is gorgeous, and perfectly reflects the lyrical content within. The liner notes by Rick Mastelli do a far better job of breaking down the album than I ever could, and the insight into how On Days Soon to Pass came to be is absolutely invaluable to appreciating the LP. There’s no text on the album jacket front, either, with the label instead rightly choosing to affix the title and artist to a sticker on the plastic slipcover.