Closer’s All This Will Be is probably something of a left-field choice as my album of the year, considering I’m not a die-hard screamo/skramz aficionado, but it’s also an album that has resonated most thanks to its auteur-like approach to art and artistry.

Comprised of East Coast artist/poet Ryann Slauson, Matthew Van Asselt and poet Griffin Irvine (all of whom also play in the Van Asselt helmed indie-rock band Real Life Buildings), the group set out to make a classic-sounding screamo album in the vein of City of Caterpillar and Orchid. All This Will Be very much realises this vision by being, unmistakably, a genre album. But that doesn’t even tell half the story as to why this album has left such an impression on me.

Firstly, even from the above mentioned description, you can tell All This Will Be is a labour of love, reflective of the vision to just make a screamo album for no other reason than to make a screamo album. It’s refreshing to hear a band say that their absolute goal was to make something that sounds just like what has gone before, yet here are three talented musicians doing just that, and I love that honesty.

Secondly – and perhaps crucially – All This Will Be isn’t reductive or beholden to this history. It has a degraded and muffled Lana Del Ray sample buried in the mix – showcasing the love of pop and a sense of humour often missing from such a po-faced genre. It also contains my single favourite moment in music in 2018 – a single stick click midway through ‘Hardly Art’ – which sounds ridiculous, but sets up the thrilling conclusion to the song (and is still a riotous amount of fun on the umpteenth re-listen).

And, thirdly, it’s an album made by artists willing to challenge themselves and push boundaries. Experiments into avant-garde automatic writing to get around a lyrical roadblock? Sure. Taking influence from Spanish surrealist anti-fascist poetry group the Generation of ’27? Absolutely. There’s so many disparate things going on, that yes, while it’s a genre album with universal themes, it’s also a monolithic slab of art in its own right, hiding concepts of art, artistry, and politics beneath the screamo façade.

For all this highbrow stuff though, All This Will Be is also a wonderful album from front-to-back, driven by a perfectly-judged ebb and flow. Opener ‘_ _’ through ‘Gift Shop’ and ‘Hardly Art’, crash and tumble into each other, while the final third – ‘Three Halloweens’, ‘Rec Room’ and ‘An Athema’ – possesses a heightened sense of drama and poise. ‘Dust’, and its muffled spoken-word interlude, serves as an appropriate mid-point, its final minute and a half capturing the excitement of Closer in microcosm.

Back in January, I didn’t think All This Will Be would be topping my end of year list, but its refusal to budge from the stereo reflects the obstinate vision of its creators. It’s an album of uncompromising artistic endeavour that pushes through the emotional ceiling time and again, and for that it deserves to be lauded.

  1. Closer – All This Will Be
  2. Lee Corey Oswald – Darkness, Together
  3. Weakened Friends – Common Blah
  4. Retirement Party – Somewhat Literate
  5. Active Bird Community – Amends
  6. Spanish love Songs – Schmaltz
  7. Joyce Manor – Million Dollars To Kill Me
  8. Wild Pink – Yolk In The Fur
  9. Cursive – Vitriola
  10. The Beths – Future Me Hates Me