“That track is just about the process of struggling with a mental illness and pulling yourself out”, Connie tells. “A lot of it is about how sometimes people can go about things the wrong way and it can be almost more detrimental, so it’s a song about stopping, taking a breath and really thinking about if you’re pushing yourself too hard, or if what you’re doing may seem like it’s helping a lot, but isn’t the best for your actual mental health and physical health. That was the big theme of that song, and of course, Aaron fucking kills it on his guest part”.
The second full-length studio album from San Diego’s self proclaimed “Sasscore” outfit expands on the darker elements that weave together the band’s DNA. Produced by Knocked Loose guitarist Isaac Hale, “The Romance Of Affliction” stands as the quintessential SeeYouSpaceCowboy record. It’s violent and vicious, harrowing but oddly comforting, bleak yet beautiful. It’s a complex and compelling mix of genres that defies categorisation and which truly places the band in a world of their own.
Lyrically it examines struggling with adversity while trying to find beauty within that fight and the hope of triumph. It’s the sound of total collapse, of darkness closing in, of trying to escape – through drugs, through death, through whatever means necessary – from the horrors of existence. Two weeks after the band finished recording, frontwoman Connie Sgarbossa nearly died from a drug overdose. It was, she admits, a kind of physical manifestation of everything the album’s 13 songs are about.
“Writing music is cathartic to me”, she says. “Getting things on paper is the only way I know how to deal with stuff. So to have that happen two weeks later almost backed up why I wrote the album – it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. It reinforced that I wrote the album that I needed to write”. Reflecting on the themes of the new album Connie comments: “The album is a reflection on the last couple of years of our lives; It serves as a tongue in cheek, but genuine look at what it means to struggle through adversity while trying to find some beauty in it all… It’s about making art about parts of our lives that are ugly and how that seems to resonate the most with people”. Sgarbossa expands by adding: “…what it means to be in love with someone as well as the substances that are killing you both, what it means to use sex as a way to try to feel content and loved but without a true connection that instead makes you feel more isolated. The poetic nature of writing songs about addiction only to almost die of an overdose a few weeks later. It’s a pretty coat of paint on a crumbling structure”.
That brutal, unflinching honesty isn’t just conveyed with Connie’s intensely personal lyrics, but through the intensely visceral songs that bring those raw emotions to life. Indeed, the music is a physical manifestation of the existential tug of war played out in these songs – the push and pull between existence and non-existence, the torment of loss, the rush and exhilaration and self-destructive devastation of addiction – and everything in-between. Whether the blisteringly erratic tumult of opener “Life As A Soap Opera Plot, 26 Years Running” – which features Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley – or the confused duality of “With Arms That Bind And Lips That Lock”, the wild, craven and careening existential torment of “Ouroboros As An Overused Metaphor” or the desperate, suppurating urgency of “Melodrama Between Two Entirely Bored Individuals”, each song its own unpredictable, chaotic journey through darkness and pain, all linked together by the universe they’re part of.