Album Review: Equipment – ‘Ruthless Sun’
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Since meeting the member’s of Equipment in the summer of 2017, lodged in a hot Pittsburgh basement, I have had high expectations for the band’s multi-talented collection of artists. The band’s 2016 EP release, Chump, set the bar high by giving the first taste of what the Toledo-based indie rockers had to offer, pushing the emotional vocal intensity of lead singer Nick Stoup to the record’s forefront. Thus, when Equipment announced that their first full-length was being released, courtesy of Chatterbot Records, I waited on baited breath to see what was in store. I can gladly say that, upon release, I was not at all disappointed.
From the drop of the first single, “Downward Slant”, I knew that any music fan that stumbled across this album would be in for something truly special. The track mimics exactly what Equipment delivered with their introductory EP, facilitating cordial noise through the veil of an innate pessimism and melancholy, while yet still maintaining a sort of warmth – similar to that of being bathed in the morning sun – so that you come out of the track feeling a sense of mutual understanding with the world-at-large.
Although a lot of different pieces in this album match the style of rock the Equipment delivers so expertly, “Downward Slant” really stands out. From its tempered opening to its mellow close the energy packed into this song is irradiant, setting the overall tone of the album from an early point without losing Stoup’s sentimental lyrical addition. The song’s theme revolves around the internal monologues of self-doubt and second guessing our own emotions and intentions, which stands as a common lifestyle motif for large throngs of the population, and is expertly spoken on from Stoup’s own personal point of view. The song’s poetic nature pushes the emphasis on Stoup’s songwriting and instrumental performance and puts his capacity for musicianship in full display.
The album’s midway point if marked by “All On You”, a song whose slow traverse to a climax acts as an iconoclast turn in the album’s nature. Following Stoup’s own internal monologue, the track pulls back the curtain to cascade seas of anger and frustration across the airwaves, accompanied by powerful guitar riffs to maintain the album’s evanescent energy. The track acts as an interjection of emotional ear-candy, using beautiful arrangements of prose to illustrate consequences of self-centrism and seclusion in the face of necessary support systems, and spreading dire lessons about thee value of opening up and seeking help in times of need.
The energetic standard set by “All On You” reigns over the rest of the album, up until closing tracks like “Second Chance 2: II”, which set to establish a last minute gasp of catharsis – a breath of fresh air – aimed at delivering a few moments of self-reflection before the album finally closes and the listener is left with the album’s most prominent message hung in the air, perpetuated by poetry and familiar riffs that made Ruthless Sun a vessel for the most important aspects of our own self-perception. If you have skipped this record in your day-to-day life, I implore you to give it a listen, its pure value to our sense of self, makes it easily one of the most vital pieces of music released in 2018. Bravo Equipment, bravo.
Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal
Shannon Mahoney // @Icancountto10
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