Nietzsche once said that, “The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” While this generalization oversimplifies aesthetics, it’s a helpful reminder that art born from true gratitude is often truly beautiful. My Bones Are Singing, the latest record from South Carolina’s Those Lavender Whales, exemplifies this sentiment particularly well.
My Bones Are Singing draws inspiration from a critical health emergency endured by the band’s frontman and primary songwriter, Aaron Graves. While some lyrics directly allude to the condition (the “bad types of growing” in the opening track refer to the brain tumor which threatened his life), others drip with thankfulness for his friends and family who helped him through the tumultuous season.
Those Lavender Whales approach their poetry and instrumentation in a gratifyingly direct manner. The lyrics are fairly no-frills, relying on only a few familiar metaphors. For Graves, there needn’t be a convoluted expression of existential crisis when the lyric “Oh my God, I’m not sure if You exist” is perfectly sufficient. This plainspoken expression of doubt allows the listener to take similarly candid expressions of faith at face value as well. From beginning to end, the message of My Bones Are Singing is clear: life throws challenges at us that can shake us to our foundations, but faith and community can bring us through these trials and into a better place.
The candor and explicitness of the message never seems cheap, though, due to the sincerity invoked by the production of Graves’ vocals, which are delightfully free of affectation. In fact, the personal songwriting and upfront vocals create a rawness that sometimes is a bit hard to take in.
This is where the instrumentation of My Bones Are Singing helps complete the package. Ranging from atmospheric indie-folk to playful pop-rock to full-on shoegaze (sometimes even within a single song), the quirky arrangements — deftly recorded and produced by Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bundick — give the songs a warmth and accessibility that allows the listener to take the poetry to heart.
My Bones Are Singing is a reminder that sometimes the simplest truths are the most profound. Those Lavender Whales strike the difficult balance between earnestness and sincerity, without emotional pandering or thematic dilution. It’s a peculiar, refreshing, and beautiful record.
My Bones Are Singing is out April 7 on Fork & Spoon Records. You can purchase the album on Bandcamp below.