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Andrew Fisher (vocals) - Alex Henery (guitar) - Ronan Crix (guitar), Duncan Stewart (bass) James Fisher (drums)
The fourth full-length from Basement, Beside Myself is an intimate look at the drawbacks of living in your own head, and the attempt to shake off everyday anxieties. “One of the things everyone in the band seems to struggle with is living fully in the present time,” says Andrew Fisher, who co-founded the Ipswich, England-bred five-piece in 2010. “We tend to look back on the past and think, ‘That was so much better than what’s going on now,’ or look toward the future and assume it’s going to be better than today. The title came from thinking about, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could stop yourself from doing that, and just appreciate the moment as it happens?’”
But for all its intense introspection and confessions of self-consciousness, Beside Myself centers on a powerful, passionately charged sound that makes every track feel deeply cathartic. A relentless burst of pure vitality, the album expresses its unrest in the language of furious guitar riffs and visceral rhythms. And at the heart of Beside Myself are Basement’s indelible melodies, an element that lends an anthemic quality to even the most heavy-hearted songs.
The follow-up to Promise Everything—a 2016 album whose re-release the following year
marked Basement’s debut for Fueled by Ramen—Beside Myself was co-produced by the band and Colin Brittain, and mixed by Rich Costey (Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters, Muse). In creating the
album, Basement focused on channeling the raw energy of their live performance, adding little adornment beyond the occasional synth line or piano melody. But despite the stark simplicity of its sonic
palette, Beside Myself emerges as the band’s most fully realized work to date. “We’d never been able to take this much time with something before,” says Fisher. “It was always this rushed writing process, rushed rehearsal, rushed recording. This was the complete opposite, and because of that it feels like the most complete thing we’ve ever come up with.”
On the album-opening lead single “Disconnect,” Basement set the tone for Beside Myself with a hard- hitting track built on lyrics that closely detail the nagging pain of ambivalence. “From a young age I wanted very badly to be in a band and travel all over playing for people,” says Fisher. “But now sometimes I get bogged down in thinking things like, ‘Is this the best thing for me to be doing? Should I be doing something that could help make someone else’s life better?’ So ‘Disconnect’ is about trying not to get too entrenched in those thoughts, and to let myself just enjoy this whole experience for what it is.”
Basement continue that exacting self-examination on “Be Here Now,” bringing a frenzied intensity to their own struggle with embracing the sentiment of the song’s title. Later, Beside Myself veers into darker terrain with “Stigmata,” whose serpentine guitar riffs and dizzying rhythms sharply capture what Fisher refers to as “those moments when everything’s going okay, but you just feel incredibly down for real reason.” Meanwhile, “New Coast” looks back on Basement’s first trip to Los Angeles and its exacerbation of their misfit tendencies, the song’s shiny textures brilliantly clashing with their self-effacing lyrics (“For me it’s too bright outside/If it is bright at all/The leaves are alive outside/But better when they fall”). “There’s something unreal about L.A., in a way that’s magical but also slightly ridiculous,” says Fisher. “‘New Coast’ is about us trying to cope with feeling so grateful to be in the position we’re in, but also recognizing that it’s so different from where we came from.”
On the delicately unsettling “Ultraviolet,” Basement turn their focus outward, reflecting on the 2017 terrorist attack on the Westminster Bridge in London. With its eerily ethereal guitar tones, the song is threaded with plainspoken yet piercing lyrics (e.g., “We’ll be wanting you home safe and sound”). “I remember hearing the news in my kitchen in America, and feeling so alienated and far from home,” says Fisher, who now lives in Richmond, Virginia. “I just felt incredibly helpless, and realized that this kind of thing could happen to anyone at anytime.”
While an undeniable volatility infuses much of Beside Myself, Basement slip into a gentler mood on songs like “Keepsake,” a harmony-laced reverie that adds a touch of wide-eyed romanticism to the album (“Can you put me in your pocket?/Let me be your lucky charm/I’m right here waiting/So come and use me”). A
spontaneously composed interlude driven by elegant piano work and graceful acoustic guitar, “Changing Lanes” looks at the fragility of human existence. “Anyone who’s ever been behind the wheel in a moving vehicle has probably had that realization that—at any minute—you could be in a fatal accident,” says Fisher. “‘Changing Lanes’ is about that moment of realization, and how terrifying that possibility is.”
On “Slip Away,” Basement shift into a fast-paced, joyfully frenetic epic that offers up a subtle message of hope (“Carry on, it gets darkest before dawn/Wait a while, it won’t be long until the morning”). And with “Reason for Breathing,” Beside Myself turns gloriously pensive, with Basement’s sludgy guitars and brooding rhythms create a perfect contrast to the song’s tender vulnerability. “When you’re a kid, all that matters to you is your family, and what you’re having for tea that night,” says Fisher in discussing the song’s inspiration. “But as you get older, you start to think about the fact that these people that you love so much are going to die someday—even though at some point they probably told you they’d never leave you. ‘Reason for Breathing’ is about those lies that parents tell their children to make them feel secure.”
Throughout Beside Myself, Fisher’s lyrics reveal the thoughtful sensitivity partly honed through his recent stint as a teacher of religious studies at a school in East London (a position he held while Basementtook a break between their 2012 sophomore album Colourmeinkindness and their 2014 EP Further Sky). “Every single day I could genuinely affect young people on a face-to-face level,” says Fisher of his teaching experience. “I had a purpose and a drive, and there was real meaning to it. I think it’s possible for music to inspire other people too—but as soon as you make that your goal, or have an agenda to what you’re creating, it taints everything. For me the only goal behind making music is some kind of emotional outpouring.”
On Beside Myself, that outpouring unfolds at its own distinct pace, with Basement bringing an unhurried deliberation to their meditations on mental health and the overall anxiety of getting by in the modern world. As a result, the album invites a certain self-reflection in the listener, and ultimately provides a sense of solace. “I don’t think making this album has changed my perspective in any way, but I do think it’s good to talk about things that you’re struggling with,” says Fisher. “Even if it doesn’t help you to understand the world any better, it’s always good to just get those thoughts and feelings out. That’s what music’s always been able to do for me.”