The Gloomies’ Andy Craig dives into his beautifully beachy, intimate, and hazy second album ‘Are We Getting Better?’, a record that is as compelling a listen as it is important a question.
for fans of Sir Sly, Day Wave, Bon Iver, Far Caspian
Stream: “D N T G T B T T R” – The Gloomies
The Gloomies ask an important question a little ways into their beachy new sophomore album: “Are we getting better?” aches vocalist and songwriter Andy Craig, his voice hanging heavy in the air with every passing repetition. It’s as if the sheer fact that he has to ask such a question – into an abyss, mind you – means he already answers himself, but the truth is his words are far from rhetorical: Some might say we’re getting better every day – or at least, that we’re trying to go in the right direction. Others might argue the opposite – that with the current political, social, economic, and humanitarian crises, we are headed in the wrong direction.
Torn between two poles, Andy Craig finds himself searching for seemingly nonexistent truths in his band’s sophomore album; indeed, The Gloomies wind up asking far more questions and offer little in the way of conclusive verdicts. There is, in fact, an answer to the question “Are We Getting Better?”, but it’s going to take a lifetime of asking questions to come to something truly satisfying – and therein lies the magic of The Gloomies’ new album, the beautifully intimate and hazy Are We Getting Better? – an experience that leaves us sonically satisfied, albeit with far more on our minds than when we started.
are we getting better?
are we getting better?
wrong it hurts,
stay inside of this
not there forever
am I getting better?
am I getting better?
watch as all
the lights turned off
your head forever
Independently released March 6, 2020, Are We Getting Better? reintroduces Andy Craig’s The Gloomies in 2020 as a need-to-know beachy indie rock act full of spunk and raw dynamicism. Following the band’s 2018 debut album Romance and pre-release singles “Sick Like You,” “Moonlight,” and “Sideways,” the new record plays like an immersive, emotional upheaval – and although it’s not quite clear what (if anything) is getting resolved, Craig certainly sets a ton for reflection, rejuvenation, and inspiration.
In premiering the single “Sideways” in January, Atwood Magazine praised the artist’s ability to capture a depth of intense, muted emotions, and praised Craig for “successfully striking a cogent middle-ground between two poles, turning an otherwise dark song into a refreshing jam we can play on repeat.”
The Gloomies are anything but gloomy, although you wouldn’t guess that from the outset. While “Moonlight” is woozy, “Sick Like You” hypnotic, and songs like “Sideways” and “D N T G T B T T R” seem forever stuck in some gray middle space, Andy Craig’s latest soundtrack is far more geared toward enlightenment and self-discovery than it is doom, gloom, or any sort of darkness. Haunting moments like those on the driving “Sunflower Pollen,” the heartfelt “Mess We Made,” and the somber “Calm Now” encourage serenity, tranquility, and introspection as Craig dives into himself and the fragmented state of things.
Sounding often like a stripped-down Sir Sly (his voice could be a stunt double for Landon Jacobs), The Gloomies weave a fuzzy, warm mess of sounds akin to that of Daywave, Vallis Alps, or Wild Nothing – making heavy, but always tasteful use of the effects pedal. Hailing from a “sun-bleached surf town in Southern California,” Andy Craig is well on his way to defining a new West Coast standard sound: One that doesn’t evoke as much sunlight, as it does a hot n’ heavy haze.
Bookmarked by voice memos that speak to the music’s raw, vulnerable, and visceral quality, Are We Getting Better? is as compelling a listen as it is important a question.
Experience the full record via the below stream, and peek inside The Gloomies’ Are We Getting Better? with Atwood Magazine as Andy Craig goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his band’s sophomore album!
‘Are We Getting Better?’ – The Gloomies
:: Inside Are We Getting Better? ::
A couple years ago we were joking around with our first single LSD and put the entire single in reverse. We heard this melody that I thought was so awesome and just kept trying to use it. We had used it as an intro to our live set during our residency at Soda Bar and I had been wanting to make it into something ever since. It ended up as the intro to the album as a sort of palette cleanser.
Moonlight is about being unwilling or unable to give up the hope of what someone used to be or what you believed someone could be. You tell yourself they’re good for you or that it’s worth it… But telling yourself that lie is like believing in the siren song. You go to your death willingly even though part of you may know it’s not right. You follow the song and you ask to be taken to the bottom of the sea.
voice memo 004
So this is the first of the voice memos on the album. Basically I had this idea that I wanted interludes going throughout the album. I thought it would be cool to use these 3 voice memos because of the raw quality of how they were originally written. This was before we had started recording. I think there’s an innocence and vulnerability to the voice memos that brings the story of the album together.
The album’s name comes from the chorus of this track. There is so much going on in the world today. The lyrics have lot of meanings. This song is as much a social commentary on our society as much as it is personal. It can be hard to ask yourself questions about your own life or relationships and I think it can be just as difficult to look at the world around you and ask the same questions.
“Nightlight” came from a time in my life when I had incredibly bad insomnia. The band and I would be up all night long recording and messing around on new songs. This was happening over the course of months, and everything started to sort of blur together. This song is about that state and what it feels like to become lost in that haze. This is my favorite song on the album. Once it was written, “Nightlight” really guided the rest of the sounds for the album.
This is one of the oldest songs on the album. I had had it sitting around in rotation trying to finish it for a couple years. It finally came together for this album and I enjoy how it breaks up the record with it being stripped down of any beat. The song is about the idea of getting away from everything and being on an island with those you love but realizing at the end you’re alone there.
S P 2
This was an idea that was originally part of Sunflower Pollen. It works perfect as an interlude for the album. When I originally started I knew I wanted to have these moments that tie everything together.
Sick Like You
“Sick Like You” has been through a lot of different versions. It started with a melody written around the time of our first single “LSD”. Then fast forward to 2018 and our drummer Chris was staying on my couch for two weeks in LA and we were writing and recording what would become the new album including tracks for Sick Like You. In NYC we met with Loren Shane Humphrey at Stockholm Sound to continue recording and ended up featuring our friend Jade’s vocals on the track.
Mess We Made
This song was written about the up’s and down’s in a relationship. Some relationships last, some don’t. I really enjoyed the idea of both people in a relationship basically making a mess of the others lives. We all want to blame one person and have them responsible for the good or the bad, but the truth is both people in a relationships are making both the good and the bad. A lot of times you really do end up with a mess that you have to clean up at the end of it all.
“Sideways” came from the thought of being lost in space. I guess I was really drawn to that imagery because for me it represents how it feels to be lost in your own life.
I wrote the lyrics to “Calm Now” after reading about another shooting. Everything feels so outta whack right now. It’s like we’re living through some kind of ground hogs day scenario, one tragedy after another. When I wrote that song it was hard for me to see the good in humanity.
voice memo 005
This is my favorite voice memo and one of my favorite songs on the record. This version of the song fits perfectly as an outro for the whole story of the album.
— — — —
📸 © Rebecca Burns
Are We Getting Better?
an album by The Gloomies