Ah, State Faults, I remember you.
Rather, I remember seeing your name.
I must admit, you got lost somewhere a few years ago. I remember hearing about your last record, Resonate/Desperate, which came out back in 2013. Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself reviewing Clairvoyant, your new full-length.
Clairvoyant marks the re-emergence of State Faults into the world, six years after R/D, which is now heralded as somewhat of a classic of the scene from which it emerged. Resonate/Desperate got lost for me somewhat, owing to the similarities I saw between State Faults and an awful lot of bands from that scene and that time—they all just became hard to distinguish from each other. State Faults lacked the chaotic elements of something like Beau Navire, the wordplay of Comadre, the coldness of the early Pianos Become The Teeth records.
In the time that has elapsed, whilst State Faults have been hibernating, the landscape has changed. Pianos have softend, Comadre have sadly departed (RIP), as have Beau Navire. They are sorely missed. It’s only a band like Loma Prieta that still remains. The time away has also given them time to double-down on what it is that they do, in order to present what feels like their most fully developed record yet. This may seem so because of that changed landscape, but it is hard to deny the power of Clairvoyance—whilst those other bands have either softened (Eroded? Sorry. There are too many geological puns to be made in this.) over time or fallen away, Clairvoyance shows a band that has weathered, hardened. Also, for what it’s worth, it’s interesting to note that those last three bands are Californian, as are State Faults—perhaps the geographical elements of their name help to distinguish their sound somewhat.
Enough context, more contents.
Clairvoyance opens with a crescendo, a slow climb to a peak and the view from the top is beautiful. Opening track ‘Dreamcatcher, pt. II’ demonstrates State Faults doing what they do best—tight, sweeping instrumentals, with raw and unrelenting vocals atop. The catharsis provided by the moment of release in this track is undeniable, the little rush it gave me bringing a rare smile amidst the Tasmanian winter.
If ‘Dreamcatcher’ represents a climb to the top of the mountain, the three which follow in quick succession are a slip and fall down the other side, the unrelenting chaos of single ‘Moon Sign Gemini’—a neck-snapping back and forth between the fury that introduces it and the melodic respite of the middle.
The aim of this is not to provide a blow-by-blow of the record, but this opening four-song salvo perhaps best portrays this record—a series of ups and downs, as State Faults lead us upwards, through a suite of crescendos and then let us fall downwards in chaos. While the peaks open into some beautiful vistas (sorry, more geology) and really emphasize the power they display in their more chaotic moments, it just becomes a little tiresome after a while.
Midway through the record lies ‘Olive Tree’, which seems oddly similar to opener ‘Dreamcatcher pt. II’. A lazy comparison could be made to Deafheaven, but State Faults have brevity on their side, demonstrated by the speed and precision with which they play—whilst Clairvoyance explodes into chaos at points, it is measured, calculated and executed with skill and grace (see the drumming the whole way through the record—god damn!) Moreover, the parts where State Faults are the most exciting are perhaps where they take a turn, instead of a rise or fall—the scattered hooks, the chant of the title track.
Clairvoyant is a great record. Passionate, energetic, undeniably emotional and cathartic, State Faults have returned, a more focused and honed version then when they left us. As is sung in the album closer, ‘Cemetery Lights’: ‘I want to start again.’—State Faults may not be starting again with Clairvoyant, but they have space and the record to make them a dominant feature of the landscape. A blast from the past, but a very fucking pleasant one.
P.S.—this record reminds me of a band from the UK from maybe 15 years ago, called Secondsmile—I remember them putting out a couple great EPs. I urge you to check out I Am Not Romeo, You Are Not Juliet.