On the 9th of January, Timeshares released a 4-song digital EP entitled On Life Support. This new material offers fans a taste of what the band have been up to since the release of their last album, Already Dead, in 2015. The songs were tracked this past December at Retro City Studios in Philadelphia, and come with a personal message from Jon Hernandez on Bandcamp about the process of producing the EP and the story behind each track. In his message, Jon warns that these songs may be ‘a little different’ to what Timeshares have previously released, and lets fans know that the EP is meant to act as a preview for the band’s next full-length album (which seems to have been recorded, but will take a little longer to get out into the world). I know Timeshares primarily from their older and (rightly) well-loved album Bearable, which came out in 2011. The line-up on Bearable was the same as Already Dead, with Jason Mosher, Eric Bedell, and Mike Natoli joining Hernandez. This time around, Mosher has been replaced by Maxwell Stern and there has also been the addition of some keys (provided by Kyle Graham). All in all, On Life Support promises something new and exciting from Timeshares.
Getting into the first song on the EP, ‘Life Support’, the first thing I pick up is that it’s slower than the Timeshares songs I remember. The guitar tone is beautifully rich and warm, and the sound is filled in nicely by the keys, but it’s the vocals that really soar out of the song. Slowing things down seems to have allowed the band to linger a little longer on vocal melodies. The general sound of this song also seems a little more country than the Timeshares of the past. This country-esque feel comes not only from the guitar strumming and a few choice vocal harmonies, but also from the narrative-style lyrics: “Baby, we’re on life support, yeah. And you don’t make it easier when you say we’re alright – because we’re not!” It is well worth reading everything that Hernandez has to say on Bandcamp about the message behind this song, which speaks to the ways in which the dominant position of straight white males is currently being challenged by historically marginalized groups. He writes, “I’m thankful to have been able to stand in the glow of many oft-marginalized people across race, gender and sexuality who, in the face of all this, maintain a level of strength and compassion that inspires a hope way stronger than any frightened dipshit drumming up hate.” In writing a song like ‘Life Support’, Timeshares help contribute to continuing this conversation and spreading more hope.
The second track is much more like the Timeshares of old. Kicking off with a juicy riff that reoccurs throughout the rest of the song, ‘Anxious and Aspy’ describes the challenge of living as an adult with social anxiety. The sense that fitting in is a “pass or fail” moment that leaves no space for in-betweeners is something that many people can relate to (particularly punks, or anyone else who often finds themselves on the social fringe). I think there will be many fans who nod along to the song’s closing lines “I don’t think I’m coming out to play. It feels like starting over every day.” The last two tracks on the EP, ‘Bat City’ and ‘Ladder’ are both slower songs with meditative, soulful melodies. ‘Bat City’ has a barroom singalong feel and, although the song doesn’t speed up, it gradually builds up a rich layering of sounds including some bluesy vibrato guitar. ‘Ladder’ is a really moving acoustic track that pays homage to Hernandez’s father, but which also works as a meditation on life, death, and the lessons that parents pass onto their children. The vocals ring out beautifully, so that it sounds to me like the song is being sung in a big open space.
The new EP from Timeshares feels like something you’d get from an older and more experienced band. There are no cheap tricks here – just good, honest songwriting with depth. The songs are hearty and satisfying, and the addition of new elements like the keys has paid off. I’m really looking forward to the next full-length release from Timeshares if this is the sort of quality we can expect.
Stream and download On Life Support here: https://timeshares.bandcamp.com/album/on-life-support
Like Timeshares here: https://www.facebook.com/timesharesmusic/
This review was written by Robyn Pierce.