As the title suggests, much of ‘Beside Myself’ follows Andrew Fisher searching for purpose and identity but, actually, Basement’s fourth outing is their most assertive and definitive statement yet.
Fuelled by their more melodic, cleaner, post-hiatus return with ‘Promise Everything’ in 2016, Basement’s ambition now is to be amongst rock’s elite. The albums is full with nods to bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Jimmy Eat World and Weezer; too many to not be a sign of the direction they’re heading in.
Despite those references, ‘Beside Myself’ is unmistakably Basement; no one can do raw emotion like this. As always, the centrepiece to Basement are Andrew Fisher’s vocals and lyrics. The passion is unwavering, and the singer’s ability to dissect his darkest thoughts makes this album their most personal work to date but at times it's difficult to look directly in the eye. On ‘Just A Life’ the singer cries, “There are times when I’m scared to be alive / but terrified to die / so we just get by,” while ‘Stigmata’ talks of the fear of failure and ‘Ultraviolet’ is an impassioned tale of depression.
Framed around those lyrics, Basement are at their most versatile musically on ‘Beside Myself’ too. From the focused and fervent lead single ‘Disconnect’ and its big hooks to the breezy bop of ‘New Coast’, the frailty of ‘Changing Lanes’ or the grungy ‘Be Here Now’, they find a perfect balance between those flashes of aggression and those moments of serenity.
That balance hints at more maturity in the crafting of this album and is more evident in how it all wraps up. From the despair, frustration and struggle, in the beginning, closing number ‘Right Here’, as the strings swell and the gloom lifts, there is a sense hope and relief in the words “it's only us controlling us/we are free” bringing the album to a fitting close.
‘Beside Myself’ is another leap forward for Basement. It’s an album packed with heart and hits and is by far their most accomplished work yet. Despite a whole spectrum of approaches across the 12 tracks, each track is quick to entwine with and then tug sharply on your heartstrings in a way that seems to be second nature to this band. They have set their sights high in this album, and the goal seems to be alongside rock’s elite and, in ‘Beside Myself’, they’re not far off.