tue 21/05/2024

Album: Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties - In Lieu of Flowers | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties - In Lieu of Flowers

Album: Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties - In Lieu of Flowers

Aaron West’s carefully crafted next chapter is storytelling at its finest

'A real work of art'

Perfecting Ernest Hemingway’s advice that “a writer should create living people; people not characters”, In Lieu of Flowers sees Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties’ Dan Campbell invite fans back into the fictional universe of open-wound Aaron in a way that is so intimate and descriptive, you can’t help but hurt for him.

The Emo-Americana band, now made up of 16 musicians, introduced Aaron West’s tragic story a decade ago. We Don’t Have Each Other was followed by a three-track EP and a single; and then a second album, 2019’s Routine Maintenance. The fervent interest in the next chapter of this lost soul’s life gives credit to Campbell’s phenomenal storytelling, and In Lieu of Flowers is as emotive and detailed as you could hope for.

The scrupulous narrative follows Aaron’s failing music career, his troubled relationships, his struggle with alcohol, the ongoing grief surrounding both his divorce and his father’s death, and his continued decision to stick around despite all of it. Campbell, who performs as Aaron at live shows, has cleverly integrated the album’s plot with a sense of reality throughout. “Smoking Rooms” opens as a live performance with a crowd talking over the music, immediately confirming the loneliness that still plagues Aaron. “Alone at St Luke’s” appears to reference the Covid pandemic and “I’m an Albatross” confirms the understood timeline with a reference to “Carolina Coast”, “it’s been a decade since I thought about drowning in the sea”. From the grapefruit in “Spitting in the Wind” to the note in blue ink in “Dead Leaves”, every moment has been carefully crafted to evoke compassion and nostalgia.

The gripping story is told through decorative lyrics, expressive vocals and soaring brass interludes. The music itself is representative of the moments of hope throughout the narrative, from his sister’s support to his friend’s forgiveness, and Aaron continues to find reasons to keep going. “Dead Leaves” closes the album with emotional throwbacks, a revelation that I won’t spoil before the live stream on 11 April, and the perfect cliffhanger “the future’s a rhetorical question”. In Lieu of Flowers is a real work of art.

Every moment has been carefully crafted to evoke compassion and nostalgia


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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