Music is a sacred ritual, often excavating revelatory confessions and affirmations of personal truths. Alt-pop outfit I, Us, & We ⎯⎯ involving musicians and brothers Jordan, Evan and Aaron Doverspike ⎯⎯ drove their minds down into the darkest fathomable depths to mine songcraft for an emotional and spiritual breakthrough. Their debut EP, Ceremonies, is stitched together by somber punctuations, tethered vocal grit and a crestfallen, shopworn heartbeat. “There was a ton of questioning ourselves going into the process, but in the end, we feel like it made us better songwriters and producers having such a small time frame to write songs from the ground up,” they said, detailing the two-week span they wrote the EP, except for one song called “22,” a majestic, funk-flittering number, which was a demo that bounced around for a minute.
Their particular expedition is mirrored in the underground slither of “Tryst,” a magnetic and stirring genesis opening the record. The bombastic waves ripple outward and needle once again on the titular cut, in which they yowl freely, making primal cravings public. “You know you can’t live without it / Tell me that you need me,” they sing, framing their physical lusts and psychological needs as unquenchable, dire and violent. “Now, I’m a prisoner and shackled by the pain,” they languish later with “Fences,” a frail, psychedelic decree of the tremendous weight of heartbreak. “Show me how deep your love is.” Withstanding the storm, burdened by torrential downpours and self-aware wallowing, the group carry their cross, for better or worse. “I just want you to hold me in your arms / And baby, can’t you just hold me in your arms,” they bemoan on “Trigger,” the heavily-produced smoke swirling in their eyes. “You don’t know your heart…anymore.”
If Eurythmics and David Bowie had a love child one long, hot, muggy summer in the late ’80s, you’d be left with I, Us, & We. Jordan, Evan and Aaron work best when they weld such contagious hooks as “22” and “Tryst” with hauntingly-bizarre synths which then worm uncomfortably up the neck and into the brain stem. The Ceremonies EP is a commendable (mostly triumphant) effort, and once they shake their flaws (for tighter, more spellbinding melodies), they’ll be unstoppable.
Grade: 2.5 out of 5