In the early days of the pandemic, one of the pieces of advice I saw floating around was that we should all be journalling. One day, it was posited, we might want to look back on this time and reflect.
In their own way, Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz have journaled their pandemic experience with Sirens Go By, the second instalment in their “Music in the Time of Coronavirus” collection. Recorded in home studios in both southern and northern California, this effort of collective and individual experiences works as an encapsulation of the era.
Not every song on Sirens Go By is directly about the Covid-19 pandemic. This is an unprecedented time for many reasons, and the recurring theme of looking past lies showcases this. “The Great Unknown” explores industrialism in a meandering way — folky and trickling along with steady percussion. “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” explores a Covid-era America with lines like “A faded love from too much news”. The criticism is clear.
“Always Almost” digs into the experience of isolation, using the metaphor of a ghost to get at the sensation of haunting your own space. “Turned my hauntin’ into song,” Anders sings. This is all the more concrete in the title track, which tells the story of a woman listening to the sound of ambulances go by her apartment, and details the fear and paranoia of a world flipped on its head.
Sirens Go By is full of fragmented lyrics that roll towards poetry, noted firmly on “Love Unbound”, which returns to the idea of lies and truth in an exploration of one’s own unlimited love for a child. “Horizons We Can’t See Past”, uses the folk and Americana foundation of the record, but expands into something grander. Once again, the central metaphor of sailing drives so much of the power, showing that this is a duo who know how to wield language.
To hear more from Eric Anders and Mark O’Bitz, you can find them on their website, SoundCloud, and Facebook page. You can also follow them on Twitter for more music and news. Find our past coverage on the duo here.[upme view=compact id=10]