Basement's Internal Battle: "Beside Myself"
by Emily Bunn
On October 12, English punk-rock band Basement released their fourth studio album, Beside Myself. This album is first of the band’s to be produced by Fueled By Ramen, and a cleaner production sound is evident upon immediate listening. Though the album lacks Basement’s earlier, grungier sound, Beside Myself does hold some reminiscence with Basement’s previous release, Promise Everything. There is a softer, melodic sound to the record, especially apparent on “Ultra Violet” and “Changing Lanes”. The latter, “Changing Lanes” is actually an acoustic track, which is a major switch from Basement’s typical distorted, grunge electric guitar riffs. This album deals with feelings of hopelessness and finding oneself. Beside Myself is about the constantly internal happenstance of literally being by oneself.
The album starts with “Disconnected”, a hopeless and melodic track that starts out the album on a yearning note. The guitar work is especially sharp and interesting in this track. The chorus belts out, “My prodigal son, what have you done?”, calling out a nameless inquiry to the sky about feeling disconnected and seeking help. This song is not only interesting because of the questions it poses to its listeners, but also because of the build to the first chorus, thanks to the impressive guitar work by James Fischer. These themes are carried throughout the album, such as on “Be Here Now” and “Slip Away”. Both of these tracks further discuss feeling lonely, and the specific ache that loneliness creates. While packed with emotional instrumentation, these songs represent feeling hollow and empty. Though telling oneself to be in the moment seems simple enough, achieving this state of mind is, in reality, much more difficult.
“Stigmata” and “Reason For Breathing” are two tracks off the album that are necessary to highlight. “Stigmata” was originally released as a single. This song discusses the facade that people dealing with struggles or illness may hide behind. The song takes a darker turn than the rest of the album, emphasized by rougher vocals during the chorus. “Stigmata” feels like a deep dive into the psyche, putting listeners into the shoes of someone dealing tragedy from a human perspective. Fans can find solace in the shared experience of dealing with ‘feeling incredibly low without any particular reason’, as Fischer has explained. The lyrics and impressive guitar build right before the bridge explodes, with vocalist Andrew Fischer singing:
I can feel the sickness
Taking over my senses
I'll give in to darkness
In hopes, I can forget
Next, “Reason For Breathing” revisits Basement’s older and rougher sound yet introduces harder, grungier guitar work and a mesmerizing chorus that dizzily repeats: “You are the Sun”. Sounding almost similar to Oasis or Slowdive, the shoegaze influence in these tracks sounds straight out of the 90s. The simplistic lyrics that sound like they could be read out of a diary entry prove the authenticity of the album. Basement is alluding to the light and warmth that love can provide. While being in love can seemingly cover up one’s struggles by distracting oneself with another person, the underlying problems still remain. The second verse in “Reason for Breathing is especially encapsulating of this message:
If love could wash
Then please bathe deep
The album ends with “Right Here”, a slow track that brings a slow, honey-d end to the album. This song feels like waking up from a bad dream then realizing you're awake and now able to start a new, happier day. The album had discussed feeling stuck in one’s own head up until the song, “Right Here”, which finally brings listeners to the conclusion that we each control our own thoughts and emotions. The chorus gently croons, “It's only as controlling as we are afraid/ I will be right here”, closing the album on a soothing and more optimistic note. “Beside Myself” strikes an impressive balance between melancholic and hopeful, a delicate line that Basement consistently treads. This album is emotionally transformative from beginning to end and works to guide fans through Basement’s internal battle. As Basement travels through “Beside Myself” trying to find solace, their fans will be transported on a cathartic, beautiful trip as they too listen to this tasteful new release.