Chicago trio FACS have been perfecting their brand of intense, cathartic art rock over the course of four ever-evolving albums. Beginning with 2018’s Negative Houses thru 2021’s landmark Present Tense, the trio digs deep into the gaping maw of a black hole and pulls back whatever debris they can grasp onto. Their newest LP, Still Life In Decay, which arrives April 7, 2023 from Trouble In Mind Records, comes as an addendum to their last album— a “post-event review,” if you will.
When the guitar punctures the lock-step swing of first album single “When You Say,” it hits like a hammer. Case utilizes his lyrics like a person suffering from anterograde amnesia, repeating phrases and holding onto old memories in a desperate attempt to avoid the slide into oblivion. Freeform poetic missives touch on themes of resignation, cynicism, class warfare, and a search for identity and meaning in a crumbling society; A primal desire to hold onto anything in a post-pandemic barrage of sensory overload.
While FACS are a heavy band, they don’t necessarily feel like one— Case’s fluttering, melodic guitar lines are buoyed by the insistent, underlying pulse of an expert rhythm section. Bassist Alianna Kalaba, who stepped in for founding member Jonathan Van Herik in 2018, makes her amicable last stand here with the group. Alongside drummer Noah Leger, they dance and twist around each other like a double helix, forming the DNA of what makes FACS so special. Collectively they approach rhythm from outside the groove as opposed to inside it, creating a lattice where Case weaves guitar lines like creeping vines, making the moments on Still Life In Decay where the band locks in even more powerful.
FACS have never been more solidified as a unit, and Still Life In Decay is a decidedly focused effort. The apocalyptic chaos that defined their previous album is waved away in favor of an examination of events with cumbrous clarity.