Whether we’re sitting down with a good book, flipping through our latest stack of comics, spraining our thumbs during all-night video game sessions, or doodling in a sketchbook, The Pure Mood loves to have a record spinning in the background of our lives. Every week, we’ll spotlight a new album that demands listening.
Jesse Lortz’ newest music-project produces a chilling, morose examination of the album’s rather ominous title. Listening to this record, an array of tracks about isolation, escapism and a desperate attempt at damaged people trying hopelessly to connect, you really do start to fall under the presumption that, laying on your bed late at night, the world outside your window may just be an illusory fabrication. The characters featured in these songs, at turns warriors, lost souls and troubadours’, wander the wastelands of a world that really looks to be nothing more than a shape. Attempts to manipulate that shape into what they want it to be result in various tragedies and heartbreaks, and Lortz’ astounding talent for bringing to life true, painfully real moments recreate the kind of memories we all like to pretend happened to other people. In ‘Animals’, in which a voice assures us he doesn’t work the way other humans do, and instead crawls like a snake and other animal behaviour, pleads desperately to his lover ‘Don’t try and catch me / ‘Cuz your fingers just can’t hold on / To what I’ve become.’
The world of Case Studies is filled with such moments; people trying to carve out lives for themselves, to strip themselves of everything but the essential. It’s not a celebration of isolation, but it isn’t quite an assault on it, either. It’s more complicated than that, just as it is in all our lives. The constant yearning for independence juxtaposed with a child-like neediness for comfort is one of the defining aspects of the difficulties of adult life. Even when a source of comfort and acceptance is found, a looming shadow of realistic expectations (or cynicism, if you’d prefer) rears its ugly head. “She was terrified that she could speak his language / And she was right to be afraid”. In the fabricated, molded world inside our heads, there’s not much hope to be had for lasting connections.
Lortz’ voice brings the strength of the material even higher – his strong, assured singing is laced with a sad, sincere disappointment in the constant failings of a personal life. “I’d like to still be in your bed / But I’d settle for your life instead” he sings on ‘My Silver Hand’, and his weak, weary tone seems to say he’s not sure he deserves it. THE WORLD IS JUST A SHAPE TO FILL THE NIGHT may be bleak and alone, but it will motivate you to never let yourself watch the world in your own head so frequently as to lose what’s important in your life. If the characters in this album could have just listened, could have heard their loved ones saying that they didn’t need to go off alone or be so apprehensive about starting a new relationship, there might have been more hope for them. And that’s the optimistic message hidden between all the songs of ache and forlornness – if we find something worth holding on to, hold on.