Published Apr 09, 2020First things first, let's just agree to quickly acknowledge and move past the fact that this band releasing their debut album during the COVID-19 pandemic happens to be called Stay Inside. The moniker is uncannily apropos of the times, no doubt about it.
Now that that's out of the way, let's get into it. This is an impressive debut from the Brooklyn post-hardcore group. There are several generations of punks who are bound to be extremely amenable to Stay Inside's melding of chaotic '90s screamo, euphoric '00s post-rock and ambitious '10s indie rock. If you really liked Circle Takes the Square and Pg. 99 and have refused to listen to anything since then, you'll dig this. If you count At the Drive-In and mewithoutYou among your favourite bands, you'll dig this. If you're the kind of person who considers Pianos Become the Teeth's Keep You, Touché Amoré's Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me and the World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die's Harmlessness to be modern emo classics, you'll definitely dig this.
"Revisionist" sets the tone with intense, metronomic tension and builds it up into a satisfying conclusion, providing a powerful statement of intent in the first four minutes of Viewing. Throughout the record, songs like "Monuments" and "Veil" tip toward the turbulent and dissonant, while others like "Ivy" and "Divide" lean into the serene and uplifting, but Stay Inside find their greatest strength in combining melody and intensity into a single, holistic approach.
By knowing when to speak, when to sing and when to scream — the vocal interplay of Bryn Nieboer and Chris Johns is particularly commendable — and by embracing the idea of not only suspense and dissonance but also consonance and resolution, Stay Inside have admirably renounced the relentless gloom and joyless brutality of your average screamo record. Viewing is a lyrically expressive album, one that finds the band in the grips of self-reflection and existential contemplation. When you're singing about guilt, regret, pride, reconciliation and, above all, the inevitability of your eventual death, it pays to explore an appropriately wide range of musical moods rather than succumb to only the darkest depths of expression. In one of the album's highlights, "Silt" strikes with monolithic force yet lands a blow that doesn't bruise or bleed — instead, you're hit with a strange sense of peace.
Stay Inside can pummel and coddle in a span of seconds; they can comfort and afflict in the same breath. Viewing is a record that nods to the classics that came before while breaking from their mould. (No Sleep)