Published Jan 25, 2021The space we occupy is a curious thing. I am in a contained room, but I am also in my mind within a room, and my mind is boundless. Is my room then also boundless? This, the finiteness of space and how it gets complicated by our minds, is something explored by Vancouver-based band Bill Jr. Jr. on Homebody.
Through nostalgia-soaked melodies and yearning lyrics, Homebody is, unlike its title, anything but circumscribed. It is a beautifully expansive record that wavers on the edge of chaos, wondering whether it's having a good time there. Homebody is a stunningly produced study in the paradoxical emotions we have about the spaces we occupy, ones we wish we occupied and ones we wish we could leave.
According to lyricist, vocalist and guitarist Russell Gendron, Homebody's name comes from a period of physical transition, borne from a series of moves across Canada and the United States, yet with a sustained and inevitable stuck-ness remaining within the self —a feeling that is successfully conveyed through each track's sound.
"City Limit" tackles space in a delightfully feverish way, just this side of unhinged. The lyrics are worried about a loss of time, and by proxy, a loss of space. "When I walk these streets of mine [...] I don't know what's mine," Gendron croons, going on to say that along with losing time, he's losing his mind. Just as this revelation comes, the melody becomes delirious and urgent, Gendron's voice echoing like that of a spirit wandering aimlessly through a ghost town, until it finally becomes swallowed by the wail of a violin. You can have all the space and time you want, but eventually it won't be enough for a rapacious mind.
A feeling of sorrow undergirds this idea of not having enough space, like on "Dear Neighbour." With its blooming guitars and driving drums, it's almost as if the music is confirming the findings of the lyrics — that there won't be enough space, nor enough time. "Half Hitch" speaks of getting lost in songs themselves, as though they are an enchanting labyrinth, meanwhile physical spaces are too vast so you mustn't "stray too far." On "Blue," Gendron sings of crawling and creeping through his neighbourhood, as the guitar plucks a beachy melody, making the most of the space he's in, even as a blueness occasionally overwhelms him.
All the tracks on this album flow in a way that makes intuitive sense. The album's cover is a jumble of places that Gendron moved through, including Georgia, Vancouver and Montreal. Much like the sound of the album itself, the cover is a pastel unreality, created out of a finiteness, as if gently declaring that any space full of the resounding and measured sound of Homebody can't be a terrible space. (Independent)