Inbokeh – Into the Sun
Jonathan Burgess, Cody Smith, and Danial Swafford are three veteran musicians who’s love of music has kept them putting themselves out there for years honing their craft for sheer love of music. Long bonded by personal connections extending back to childhood, Burgess and the other two finally joined forces musically in 2015 to form the alternative rock power trio Inbokeh. They have been busy since playing a variety of live shows in the area surrounding their Columbus, Ohio home and their first recorded effort, the six song EP Into the Sun, is ample evidence that this creative union was inevitable. Burgess and Smith, on bass and drums respectively, form a powerhouse rhythm section that moves like a fleet-footed jackhammer. Guitarist Danial Swafford is heavy-handed, manic, delicate, and passionate in turns and not a single direction ever sounds like an uneasy fit.
The band works in a laid out, meditative way on the EP’s opener “Cool Days”. Much of Into the Sun concerns itself with the passing of time and ruminations on lost youth, but the lyrics and retro leanings are never presented in an overly clichéd or half baked way. Each of Into the Sun’s songs play like compositions with clear strategies – some embrace dynamics and traditional approaches while other tweak the band’s formula in subtle, but significant ways. The atmosphere is decidedly different on the second song “Too Good to be My Devil”. The reflective, slowly evolving focus heard in the first song has devolved into a much more chaotic attack that never seems to settle entirely except during the choruses. “Spend Time” whips up classic guitar-fueled fury reminiscent of bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer. The thematic material underpinning the song’s remains the same as before, but Inbokeh has a sharp sense of how to tailor strong, percussive lyrics that never overburden the music while still having something important to say.
A longing for personal freedom, particularly from the past, pervades “Head Out into the Sun” both musically and lyrically. This is one of the EP’s best orchestrated songs. Inbokeh doesn’t overextend themselves in terms of duration, but the textures are somehow much more expansive than earlier songs, the melodies more focused, and everything sinks in deeper than before. “Stay” is clearly straining to achieve the same effects and invokes the specter of longing in a different context, but the arrangement doesn’t have the same coherence as the EP’s quasi-title song. Into the Sun’s final entry, “Ghosts in my Hallway”, restates the album’s themes a last time while elaborating on them in interesting ways. There’s a bit more of an overtly poetic touch missing from the earlier songs, but the balance between music and words remains optimal.
Into the Sun will appeal to a cross section of music fans. Old and young alike will respond to the careening, reckless guitar pyrotechnics, the varied rhythm section work, and the emotionally wrenching vocals. Inbokeh has vast potential and they nearly realize every bit of it here, so they are a band to watch.
9 out of 10 stars.