You can tell a lot about a band by their press photos. On Soft Pyramids’ Bandcamp page, the Somerville guitar-rock group allows an open sky to fill most of the shot as the members walk along what appears to be an abandoned parking lot along a row of old Massachusetts houses. Soft Pyramids, themselves, are tiny figures, buried in the bottom corner and deliberately avoiding attention.
It’s a gesture that suggests those impersonal open spaces should be filled by the music, and if you’re reading this on a mobile device, you probably can’t see the band at all.
And for Soft Pyramids, that’s fine, as over the past several years the rock band has kept their sound front-and-center. This week, they’ve announced a new album, Planes, due October 28, and it’s the long-awaited follow-up to September 2014’s Fossils of the Free World.
On the LP’s lead single “Paper Houses”, singer/guitarist Dwight Hutchenson, so small in the image up top, sings in volumes, lyrically, channeling personal strife within his family, while the band creates an autumnal sound that glistens deep within its own melancholy. “‘Paper Houses’ was the last song we wrote for the record,” Hutchenson writes in the LP’s press notes. “It started with a chord progression Jonny [Christensen] was playing as the rest of us trickled in to rehearsal. Everybody added their bit as they got set up and it all just worked straight away, which is rare for us. At the time, my family had been going through a rough patch, and it had me thinking a lot about my childhood and its lingering effects, and the lyrics came out.”
Those lyrics (“I’ve lived in paper houses, it don’t mean a thing to me/Reflections cast and pooling, rearrange my dreams/They fall down with faint crashes, anybody else could see/I’m only waiting on, the hush of bittersweet”) speak loudly. They fill the open space, and what’s within those houses they walk by in their press photo might be under similar struggle. But we’ll never know.