“And he’ll stay with me for my whole life/found the sting buried in my side,” sings Kelley Bader on “Death Is Close,” a breezy Beatles-esque number dripping in melancholy as the I’m Glad It’s You singer/songwriter references 1 Corinthians 15:55. This somber moment appears halfway through the Southern California collective’s second full-length Every Sun, Every Moon, and yet it serves as the album’s basis. Every Sun, Every Moon details the tragic van accident that took the life of SoCal videographer Chris Avis. The record serves as a requiem for the band’s mentor as well as a cathartic medium for Bader to process his grief.
Every Sun, Every Moon balances the anguish of loss along with the celebration of life – Bader is profoundly sad throughout the album but also realizes how incredibly blessed he was to have known Chris Avis. Produced by the legendary J. Robbins, Every Sun, Every Moon handles this pain with thoughtfulness and consideration it is owed, delivering every moment with a vibrant dignity. Tracks like “Ordinary Pain” and “Silent Ceremony” feel spirited and loud, evoking the type of emo heard on modern classics like The Hotelier’s Home, Like NoPlace Is There or Tiger Jaw’s Charmer with just a dash of The Promise Ring and Braid (see: J. Robbins). The vigor of these tracks serve as the perfect juxtaposition towards Bader’s lyrics, providing each line with the cathartic base it needs. The rousing “Big Sound” deals with the direct impact of the accident, as Bader opens the track with “Another long last look from the back of the ambulance/ and a wave goodbye to the quiet life,” admitting, “I’m never coming back from this one/I can’t walk away/you left a big sound moving through my spirit.” It’s an intensely heavy moment soundtracked by a huge chorus and soaring melodies. “Silent Ceremony” features Bader joining harmonies with Sierra Aldulaimi during the song’s whirlwind emotional conclusion – achingly cognizant that this pain never goes away (“There’s no ancient rite/no mystic sign/no magic cure to wash the hurt”).
Robbins’ production expands Every Sun, Every Moon’s sonic boundaries. “Lost My Voice” and “The Silver Cord” are given the time and space needed to build their tempos into resounding crescendos organically. The distorted “Lazarus” draws inspiration from David Bazan, while the reverb-heavy, Oasis-tinged “Myths,” showcases some of the band’s best songwriting yet. “The Silver Chord” utilizes the groundwork laid on I’m Glad It’s You’s 2018 Redux EP and elevates it to stunning levels, as the lively synth is layered masterfully within the song’s driving guitar chords. Every Sun, Every Moon is strengthened throughout by its varied styles, cementing this collection as one of the genre’s most exhilarating listens of the past decade-plus.
Loss is processed differently from person to person. For some people, the wave is fiercely immediate. For others, it might not manifest itself for days, weeks, months, or years. But the one constant about grief is that it exists beside you for the rest of your life. You never truly overcome it, and you may never find absolute closure – you just try to figure out how it fits in your everyday life. I’m Glad It’s You concludes the record with its momentous title track that finds gratitude living alongside the sadness. It’s a beaming emblem that despite the physical loss of someone their spirit can and will still live within you – there’ll always be a presence within the absence.
Grief and how to live with it paves Every Sun, Every Moon’s eleven-track journey. Whether it’s challenging his faith (“Lazarus,” “Myths”), grappling with guilt and regret (“Lost My Voice,” “The Things I Never Said”), or finding a new way to be whole again (“The Silver Cord” and the album’s title track), Kelley Bader and I’m Glad It’s You illustrate that there isn’t any wrong or right way to proceed with your life and that there will be days where the weight of it all feels impossible to endure. But eventually, that strength to carry on does emerge, the sting begins to subside, and the joy and grief exist together – Every Sun, Every Moon is the proof.