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Underground Unusualities #1: The Cold Harbour’s “Homebound” Takes You Home

the cold harbour homebound

In this series, Jenna scours the musical expanse for unusual (but fitting) albums to soundtrack life’s tumult.

“It’s okay because it has to be okay.”

That was the tweet I composed after 20 minutes of staring into a white page from the familiar disarray of twisted bedsheets and empty Starbucks cups. My eyes were strained after a day of reading chapters about racialized mass incarceration and responding to panicked emails misinterpreted through paranoia. The constant rhythm of keystrokes, city sirens, and the tonal measurements during proofreading had my heart strained with over-articulation. Yet, despite tossing verbiage into the boxes of moving parts that make up my daily life, I could not make sense of the words floating in my inner echo chamber.

My limbs were snapped rubber bands, and my hands pulsed with chronic nerve pain, but the solace of 3:00 a.m. silence wouldn’t let me give in to sleep.

On the heels of almost losing one of my close friends to suicide, I was going through the motions in a world that doesn’t stop turning for anything. I still had an unread message from her in my inbox asking if I could come sit with her, as she still had yet to be granted the privilege to be alone. Unfortunately, I was at work when it was received, along with texts from friends indicating that I had been doing the most while acquaintances suggested I was not doing enough. It presents a conundrum as a loving friend and busy student, but also as a transparent music journalist. Gazing absently into YouTube progresses none of these identities forward.

Earlier that evening, after finishing a dinner I didn’t taste, I slumped into the diner with my headphones, trying to get a gauge on what I so desperately craved. For some reason, indulging the deeply crushing blackened soundtracks to my own depression fought viscerally with my yearning to make sense of the weekend’s events, but my usual floaty anecdote of melancholic R&B was only spurring panic attacks. So, I dove a little deeper, away from my usual boundaries.

Through a click of a magnifying glass, I sought soaring post-hardcore. Through the sights of enduring brick and barren trees, I was compelled to take refuge in The Cold Harbour’s Homebound.

I took a circuitous route back to my apartment as I descended into downtown darkness, absorbing what was unknowingly the first of countless listens. I weaved between 30-somethings leaving hotel bars and graying men steering overflowing shopping carts. Nothing seemed to sever my stride. The comforts of bright, front-facing tones and the smooth edge of a U.K. accent on impassioned vocals paved a way onward even when I feared that I was going to fall clean off the edge of the earth. Homebound’s title track was so forceful yet so understated; it barreled down the beats of a war playing out in the chambers of my chest. Crunchy chords projected through lush timbre channeled the high tensions of hand-to-hand combat in shallow waters.

Yet, despite the waves of the album hugging the shoreline of hope, it was also wearing a warm blanket of nostalgia. Perhaps I had been longing for the style of music that dominated the halls of my high school for a reason. Finale track “Moments in Time” made me forget that I was walking down the streets of my West Coast pop-punk fantasy; rather, I was on the windswept hills of my hometown, skipping school with residual guitar walls bleeding from the tangled strings plugged into my iPod Nano. Nevertheless, my perception was clouded. While 2012 — the year of Homebound’s release — was not necessarily a simpler time, its distant existence is shielded by heavy side swept bangs and teenage tunnel vision. It’s a reminder that this, too, shall pass.

Back home, as the album rumbled gently through pages flipping and keys clicking, I kept rumbling like an engine that wouldn’t give up the ghost. I might not have known much, but what was certain is that the cadence properly accompanied the intensity in which my life has been enraptured. Heart-wrenchingly honest but not a touch self-indulgent, it seemed as though I had mined the gem for which I had hoped. When my computer battery finally drained, I suddenly found myself in that profound silence. I had made it through another day and didn’t care to question how, and maybe I didn’t need to. There is no use trying to make sense of something when there is none. Sometimes, you just need to embrace the sounds of what keeps you moving.

As I finally shut my eyes, I could see that I was okay, because I had to be, but also because I was.

Homebound released July 17, 2012 via Blackheart Inc. Listen to other Cold Harbour albums on Bandcamp.

the cold harbour

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