Hell is for Heroes frontman Justin Schlosberg has unveiled his August Spies (named after the 19th century Mayday union activist from Chicago) solo project and is all set to release his debut EP ‘Corruption of the Human Heart’ on 6 May.
A drum machine opens ‘This Is How It Ends’ before the song veers into the emotional territory that The Antlers excelled in as Justin sings: ‘I kept a candle burning. You never were deserving of our desperate lives’. The sparse instrumentation (subtle strings are added later) gives the lyrics space to breathe and you can feel the yearning as Justin makes a powerful plea: ‘I’ll never let them take you, even when I’m dead or paralysed’. Following this is ‘Accidents Happen’ which opens with slow-building piano and baritone vocals that bring to mind Matt Berninger and co and then takes a ‘Digital Ash’-era Bright Eyes. It’s another track full of (bitter)sweetness, loving and longing: ‘Whichever road I chose to take would ultimately lead to you’; ‘I’ve never been a betting man. I leave it all to chance, but I’d put all we have on us’.
The title track is a self-depreciating piano-led piece dosed in melancholy: ‘I know it’s not much of a consolation prize. You remind me of me; it’s something in your eyes’. There’s then talk of being on the outside looking in and emptiness taking over before intense drumming, melodic post rock riffs and bursts of feedback finish the song in style. ‘Put Your Hands Together’ opens with Justin asking ‘Can anyone hear us? The signal’s getting lost’ before making declarations that will give you goosebumps: ‘I will hold a torch in the dark through the mist and the fog, like a lighthouse’; ‘There’s a lighthouse, let it guide you in’.
There’s a sweet story being the EP closer, ‘You Killed My Love’. The song is a cover of a musician by the name of Glyn Styler (also known as Brent Newman) who Justin saw perform two decades ago. Will the power of music be able to bring them back together? Let’s hope so as the tearjerking song clearly means a lot to Justin with its powerful account of being on the receiving end of a break-up: ‘You killed my love and you did so thoroughly. And the effects of this tragedy, you’ll just never know’; ‘You stripped my heart of its dignity’.
Co-produced by Pelle Henricsson (Refused), these five poignant and honest songs showcase a new side to Justin’s songwriting and offer powerful observations on everything from the addiction to recovery and the perils of love.
Pre-order August Spies’ ‘Corruption of the Human Heart’ here: https://tinyurl.com/AugustCOTHH