Movements Has Plenty of Good Left to Give
Movements’ junior album, No Good Left to Give, is a sun shower; bright and melancholy, cleansing yet stripping. The title concretizes the album’s theme: a sense of being tired, used up, and empty. It is a progression from their numbing and existential sophomore album Feel Something into a much deeper and more dire record. No Good Left to Give analyzes identity of self and identity in the context of relationships with other people and places.
This introspective and causticly honest release hinges upon the concept of what one is and is not, what they do and do not have. A murky undercurrent of insufficiency, owing and guilt powers each and every track. (SPOILER ALERT: lyrics/themes ahead) “Garden Eyes” decries the naivety of placing full faith in one’s romantic endeavors. An open love letter dripping with regret and FOMO addressed to a now engaged childhood friend, “Seneca,” cuts deep with lyrics like “ I wish I told you all the things I didn’t, Cause you look beautiful with a wedding ring.” “Moonlight Lines” is an admission of selfish desire “I never wanted your heart, in the moment we met, I wanted a body to warm my bed.” The ever-relatable “Living Apology” asks listeners if they can empathize with existence inside of a calloused exoskeleton. Single, “Don’t Give Up Your Ghost” is a comforting hand on the shoulder of those wrestling suicidal ideation; the accompanying music video directed by Ben Kadie jerks tears. The exceptions are “Santiago Peak,” a classic ode to home and “Skin to Skin,” a dizzying love song that paints the portrait of two becoming one.
Patrick Miranda’s lyrics do not stray from his poetic cadence. The happy-sad, optimistic-macabre compositions hit hard; “Sometimes I wonder if I died would you live a better life? I’d throw myself to the wolves outside if it meant you’d be alright,” (“12 weeks”). Miranda’s slam-poetry style resurfaces in the second verse and bridge of “Moonlight Lines” but he’s buffed out many of his rough edges for a softer and controlled vocal tone. Miranda’s intensity is not lost but his once gritty technique now moves with more ease and dynamic range.
Movement’s junior album exudes production value, which can be accredited to Will Yip and Hank Byerly, and marks their most polished work to date. It is a reinvention of the band’s well-branded sound that the internet has poorly defined as ‘emo, indie rock and spoken word.’ Miranda’s vocals blend into the background and lead guitarist Ira George has taken the passenger seat, contributing thoughtful melodies and accents rather than full-fledged leads on most of the record. No Good Left to Give sounds experimental in comparison to their discography and dabbles with bits and pieces of punk, hard rock, indie, psychedelic and even jazz. Jeff Thomas helped the group dip their toes into moving piano composition on “Don’t Give Up Your Ghost” and “No Good Left to Give.”
Bassist, Austin Cressey, and drummer, Spencer York, shine with powerful and prominent instrumentals throughout. From the marching low-end drumming on the intro of “Seneca” to the rolling rhythm of “In My Blood,” York’s flourished flows ice the cake. Cressey’s decisive picking is front and center of “Don’t Give Up Your Ghost” and his gut-wrenching yet catalytic work on “Love Took the Last of It” brings every rom com soundtrack I’ve ever heard to its knees. Many of Movement’s elders could take notes on the virtue of such a front-facing rhythm section. Cressey and York are pivotal to the danceable, road trip-playlist quality of No Good Left to Give. Movements has always excelled rhythmically but their choice to nudge their mastering in favor of drums and bass suits the breath-taking tone of this album.
The emotional weight of No Good Left to Give does make it a bit difficult to digest. I fell in love while penning my review but had initially dismissed the album as a depressing and uniform collection. I won’t play the record first thing in the morning or when going for a jog but I’ve found myself shuffling it when I’m down and need something to lean on. I’d compare the experience to inviting your friend over for movies and ice cream when you need a good cry. Thank you Movements for giving me something to smile about during a time that felt abysmal and hopeless.