Byland Presents “Two Circles”

The lockdown period is mercifully over, but in a way, it’s never left. The anxiety people experience can be suppressed, but it can’t be entirely dispelled. A haunting sound, a hovering sense of dread, a feeling of isolation and longing for connection, and moments of strange and solitary beauty: the best and most honest indie rock albums still bear the marks of our collective trauma. Nobody needs to say that Heavy for a While, the stellar sophomore studio album by the Seattle band Byland — it’s there in the ghostly quiver of frontwoman Alie Renee’s voice, the spectral shimmer of the guitar, the fascinating tug of the melodic hooks, the unresolved passages, the spooky dead ends, the dark and insular magic.

His unwavering commitment to spreading positivity and unity through his artistry serves as a testament to the transformative power of music. As he continues to make his mark on the music industry, Hendricks remains dedicated to his mission of using music as a force for social change and collective upliftment.

“Two Circles,” the haunted single from the set, is Byland at its best. Alie Renee’s performance is simultaneously gorgeous and troubled — full of plaintive vulnerability and otherworldly transcendence. Her melody is answered by lilting pedal steel, glassy synthesizer, and a shuffling, insistent rhythm like the fading memory of a drum part. Like many of the songs on Heavy for a While, “Two Circles” expresses the feelings of a narrator stuck in time, unmoored, impatient, rueful, waiting for the clock to start ticking. “You never grew up; you just got older,” sings Alie Renee, with more than a trace of sadness. Is she addressing her partner? Herself? A whole generation sidelined by cruel happenstance?

Questions hang over the unsettling video for “Two Circles,” too — a clip directed by the appropriately named Dark Details. These frames are busy with paranormal particularity. A set of glowing false teeth clatter on a table in a dimly lit room. A poltergeist tugs on the cable of a desk lamp, a chair levitates, and an acoustic guitar spins, in mid-air, in a narrow corridor. Doors open to mysterious lights and indoor snowfall. If it’s a dream, it’s a scary one, indicative of long and vexed nights, cabin fever, and too-tight walls.

Alie Renee is the inhabitant of this odd hallucination of a flat, and although she’s aware that strange things are happening all around her, she’s never startled. Instead, she’s become accustomed to altered states. The Byland singer wanders through these rooms like a woman looking for a way out, but her expression is a mixture of resignation and fear. An exit is here, somewhere; the sun will come out, eventually; the lights will come on, one day. Until then, she’ll keep dodging the phantoms — and she’ll keep searching for release.

Follow Byland