Brooklyn’s Bridges and Powerlines represent their borough almost too well: There’s a polish to their rough-around-the-edges sound, a conscious attempt to be everything they love and something unique all at once. Their grasp of melody is sublime; they mix gritty textures with ear-tingling harmonies, crafting a synergy that is both light and heavy, dirty and clean. Nowhere is this better seen than on Bridges and Powerlines’ latest song, “Even Killers Need A Home.”
When the sun starts to roam
Even killers need a home
And I speculate on everything that could go wrong
and you know
it’s only how long how long
until we climb our way out
Listen: “Even Killers Need a Home” – Bridges and Powerlines
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Even Killers Need A Home,” the second release off Bridges and Powerlines’ fast-approaching new album National Fantasy (10/7/2016 via Devise Records). The fuzzy electric guitars driving the track are reminiscent of early Cold War Kids, though keyboardist and lead singer Andrew Wood’s raw, tenacious vocal delivery keeps the song and the band distinguished. The song further gains its own weight and aura when ethereal keyboards enter in the background, adding warmth and filling in the sonic gaps.
Keep in mind, this is the same Bridges and Powerlines that released a 6-track album, Better, all of whose songs were named after different parts of Brooklyn. Ripping vocals and untethered energy are a staple of the proud indie, and their undeniable knack for alluring, vibrant melody has only gotten better through the years.
On lead single “National Fantasy,” the band builds from a light, acoustic folk rock jam into a calculated, full sound, taking their time to expand harmonies and instrumentation not when they think they have to, but when the moment feels right.
“Even Killers Need A Home” shows the band’s growth in the pop department, proving their worth in under three minutes. Built off lyrical exposition and subtle emphases, the song is in many ways different from the band’s older material – a sign of maturation and technical development, both of which are certainly good things.
right as the rule
you are sensual and cool
and you celebrate every time
hold the rope, train your tongue
keep the conversation up
til it disintegrates
every way I got done
Bassist Keith Sigel explains that “Even Killers Need A Home” is “supposed to be the end of a Western, where the hero, who is sort of an anti-hero as well, and his companion are preparing for that last big heist or score from which they are unlikely to return. It’s from the perspective of the companion, who is in awe of the hero/anti-hero/killer and isn’t sure how he keeps such a calm demeanor as they spend the last night before the job. It’s also about the fine line between good and bad, and how we’d like to think that people who do ‘bad’ things are different from us, but when the sun goes down, even killers need a home.”
Empathy is sorely lacking in our “modern” world: To remember that we are all human – that we share certain needs and wants – is important, no matter who you are or where you are in life. The lyric, “even killers need a home,” rings resoundingly in the ears well after the song is over.
The band approaches this subject with grit and fever, humanizing the so-called “villain” character and personifying that which we generally avoid personifying. Andrew Wood, who absolutely nails the strained emotions in his performance, notes that “this was one of the fastest songs we wrote for the record,” which makes sense considering its simpler arrangement.
Sometimes, simple works. This song is definitely one of those times. “We made a decision to keep the arrangement as simple and sparse as we could – a departure for us,” Wood recalls. “Along the lines of being simple, I think I was listening to that War of Drugs album at the time, which in itself seems to channel Bruce Springsteen or something, and I admired their simple chord changes that still managed to capture a certain exciting energy. I guess that’s what I was probably going for in the chorus of ‘Even Killers,’ though whether that’s what comes through, I can’t say.” Springsteen, too, taught us to open our eyes to other points of view.
Regardless of influence, “Even Killers Need A Home” catches us off our guard with a fresh, sharp journey in another’s shoes. Refined in an “indie” sense of the word, Bridges and Powerlines are rough around the edges and pure at heart, knowingly vulnerable but strong and confident at the same time. Keep an eye on Bridges and Powerlines and don’t miss National Fantasy, out October 7!
cover photo: Bridges and Powerlines © Mara Abols