Brooklyn, N.Y., experimental rock group, Reliant Tom, pummels the listener with blistering sound waves, cutting guitar arrangements and despondent lyrics in the album Play & Rewind via Diversion Records. The duo, comprised of lead singer Claire Cluny and composer Monty Weber, created these songs from after the death of Cluny’s father in 2018. What never escapes the listener, besides Cluny’s emotional toll, is the synergy and gripping circular music beds pining for comfort.
Play & Rewind has 10 total tracks. The tracks below are noted as standouts, with special recognition going to “Cafeteria Believer” and “Shape Parade”. The album is a follow-up to 2018’s immersive Bad Orange. Reliant Tom continue to grow in their artistic vulnerability and deliver show-stopping music.
The title track has a faint sound of crashing ocean waves. The water slamming against the rocks, penetrating the psyche. Underneath, a buzzing electronic pulse throbbing and fighting its way above the ocean water. A slightly joyous, bright guitar sweetly strums. Tiny bells, in a Sylvia Plath-esque way, chime throughout, like clarity droplets. “I wouldn’t wish it on my enemy, and you’re my best friend, but you don’t understand,” the vocals sing as if they were floating weightlessly on the dark blue ocean. “I don’t want to die, but I think it all the time,” the words seem to be the rudder for this grief–stricken tugboat. One interpretation is the replaying and wanting to freeze a lost one in your memory. You press play, hitting rewind on that video, over and over.
In “11-2” a warm piano key transitions to a rough, gritty and riveting pulsing electronic key arrangement. A drum machine, much like something from Nine Inch Nails mating with the theme song from HBO’s Westworld, carries the listener to the words “you’re all I need.” The pain, the sorrow is so much to bear. But the listener can handle it and it pierces their every nerve ending. Cluny, who is originally from Dallas, Texas, and who also is a choreographer, dabbles in a bit twangy delivery. Her voice dances at a higher level, at times, in “11-2” compared to the title track. Like dancers practice Pilates, she seems to be stretching her range into different tones.
“Nevermind The Garbage” opens up with a deserted desert feel. The guitar mellows, dripping over a rock electronic bed loudly. The motion, the fluidity again feels like floating. This is a haunting track with Cluny’s voice a bit smokier, a bit seedy. “I’m so lonely, I could die, I’m so lonely, I could die,” she sings over tip-toeing piano keys. A chaotic, reverb-heavy guitar riff nearly suffocates her voice. The heaviness, like a rock pressing down, gives the listener this spiraling down feeling.
Finally, “My Deepest Blue” continues to showcase the intimate, raspy-esque voice. She conveys utter anguish. She sings “I can’t seem to kill the blame, maybe I could forget it, all I see is your face, fade into my deepest blue, I sit alone, I memorize you,” over a gorgeous piano layer. Jutting electronic drum percussion bursts blurt every four counts or so. The piano plays out the song, like a message in a bottle drifting away from the shore.