April 07, 2021
[Content Warning: This piece deals with an album and theater piece that address suicide.]
Like a number of artists in 2020, the genre-resistant D.C. outfit Beauty Pill spent most of final 12 months on maintain. “I had a map in my head of how summer time 2020 would go,” frontman Chad Clark says from his house in Washington.
Their earlier album, the critically-feted Describes Things As They Are, was a breakthrough for the long-running band, producing rave critiques and exhibiting up on year-end lists. However that was launched again in 2015. It was time for brand new music. “We’d have gotten collectively, completed a brand new BP full size, possibly performed some reveals,” Clark says.
As a substitute, like most folk, Magnificence Tablet stayed house. They did, nonetheless, handle to make new music: An album (Sorry You’re Here, a rating for a dance piece), an EP (the five-song Please Advise), and a single (“Instant Night”), two of which had been accomplished earlier than the pandemic, one throughout. It’s a remarkably great amount of music from a band recognized for taking their time.
“That was largely [singer] Erin [Nelson]’s doing,” Clark says. “Her impatience helped all these data come out in 2020. The logical factor was to delay Please Advise, however she was completely pondering clearly that everybody was house now [and in a listening mood.] I bear in mind [Erin’s husband] Ryan informed me, proper earlier than Erin joined the band, ‘The factor about Erin is that if she tells you she is gonna do one thing, she hangs up the cellphone and begins working, so be prepared.’” Nelson agrees. “I don’t procrastinate,” she says. “I’ll transfer partitions.”
Proper earlier than the world began shutting down, the group launched Sorry You’re Right here—a placing and largely digital rating to a manufacturing of “suicide.chat.room.” The play mixes dance, music, and drama, and is about inside an early web chat room the place folks categorical the need to finish their lives. And whereas the music was used to attain the Taffety Punk Theater Company’s manufacturing, the majority of the songs on Sorry You’re Right here aren’t new—the truth is, a lot of the album was written 10 years in the past. “It’s not the ‘misplaced Magnificence Tablet album,’” Clark says. “It was by no means misplaced. I chickened out. I buried it.”
In 2010, Clark was having blended emotions about Magnificence Tablet. The band had cranked out two lauded EPs—2001’s The Cigarette Girl From the Future and You Are Right to Be Afraid in 2003—plus a full-length in 2004, The Unsustainable Lifestyle. However although they had been signed to honored D.C. label Dischord, the group was a tough match—they’d a extra catholic, difficult view of rock music, and their compositions had been advanced, nuanced, and barely straight-forward.
Two years after Life-style, they launched “Ann the Word,” a largely digital music that sounded not like something they’d tried earlier than. Clark posted it to the group’s MySpace web page the place it instantly blew up. “It had 100,000 listens,” Clark says, “which appeared actually spectacular to me on the time.”
Marcus Kyd was a type of listeners. Kyd additionally had some tangential connections to Clark: Beneath his authorities title, Marc Nelson, Kyd had fronted the Most Secret Technique, a late ‘90s, Dischord-adjacent rock band, the drummer of which was his brother Ryan Nelson. “Marc was actually supportive of ‘Ann the Phrase,’ and that registered with me,” Clark says. “He was actually enthusiastic about it. He wished to know the way I’d executed it.”
A number of years earlier, in 2004, Kyd and his future sister-in-law Erin Nelson based Taffety Punk Theatre Firm as a technique to mix music, dance, and theater (or, as they put it on their Bandcamp merch page: “Taffety Punk is a theatre firm that may be a band. Or a band that may be a theatre firm. We dance, too, so be careful.”)
“We wished to make accessible, reasonably priced theater that may very well be a lot of issues to all types of individuals,” Nelson says, “not having only one viewers that we’re pushing towards. And it undoubtedly parallels the do-it-yourself theme of Dischord that turned a mannequin for people.”
Finally, Kyd requested Clark to create the rating for a play Taffety was placing collectively about suicide. “Marc felt just like the type of music that I used to be doing with ‘Ann the Phrase’ would go well with the play,” Clark says. The result’s Sorry You Are Right here: a largely instrumental effort constructed round chopped-up samples, drum machine experiments, and the dislocation between the sounds themselves. “Nightshade Courante” recollects Autechre’s skitter, whereas “Isn’t There One thing Inside You?” layers spoken-word samples from a Christian web site about dying over synth stabs and a cut-up break. (It’s—deliberately—very Negativland).
There are additionally two covers—each of them rigorously chosen and delicately executed. On “SFLRE Examine no. 5,” Jean Cook dinner turns Paul Simon’s “Some People’ Lives Roll Straightforward” into an digital ballad, her voice processed, each intimate and distant. “I really like (‘Some People’) as a result of it’s somebody saying, ’I’m on the finish of my rope,’” says Clark. “There are individuals who have the privilege of getting a simple life, and never everyone is like that.”
The opposite cowl is David Bowie’s “Leap They Say,” the primary single from his 1993 album Black Tie White Noise. The music is about Bowie’s brother Terry Burns, who struggled with schizophrenia earlier than dying by suicide in 1985. “That music may be very transferring,” Clark says. “Once we practiced it lately, I began crying in entrance of the band. I used to be enthusiastic about how the music’s POV is, ’I do know that you simply had been struggling together with your mind, and I forgive you. I understood that you simply had been weak and also you submitted. And I forgive you.’ That’s a really heavy factor.”
“That is the one report Magnificence Tablet has ever put out that I didn’t write any lyrics for,” Clark continues. “I simply didn’t really feel able to intentionally expressing that which was in step with the play, so I began to suppose, ‘What songs do I do know which can be about despair?’”
Whereas it feels totally modern, Sorry You’re Right here additionally represents a transitional second between Magnificence Tablet then and now. “It completely influenced Describes Issues as They Are,” Clark says. “Describes ended up being a fairly widespread report, and I hope now that individuals see it wasn’t such a leap—that there was a constructing course of.”
In Might, the band launched Please Advise, the primary report Erin Nelson labored on with the band. Accomplished in 2019 and named, because the liner notes learn, “after producer Teo Macero’s well-known 1969 memo to Columbia Data about Miles Davis (‘Miles simply referred to as and stated he desires this album to be titled BITCHES BREW. Please advise.’)” The EP was practically shelved till the band might flesh it out into an album, however Nelson pushed for its launch. Clark is glad she did. “After I die, I count on this one to endure,” Clarks says. “I’m actually pleased with that report.”
Nelson takes the lead on single, “Pardon Our Mud,” which feels like a direct sequel to the group’s work on each Sorry and Describes. Clark takes over on “Tattooed Love Boys,” the place Devin Ocampo’s rush of drums burbles below glitchy keys and strings earlier than resolving into the type of dance groove that deserves a thousand remixes. Every bodily format—LP, CD, cassette—comes with its personal distinct bonus observe.
The band’s most up-to-date work is “Prompt Evening,” a music written and recorded throughout lockdown. Launched in October of final 12 months, “Prompt Evening” is fraught with pre-election nervousness and suffused with mid-pandemic stress. However largely, it’s about Trump.
“That music is about seeing Ann Coulter say in 2015 that the Republican nominee was going to be Donald Trump,” Clark says. “As a lot as I detest Ann Coulter, I simply fucking knew she was proper, and it was completely chilling. It was recorded whereas enthusiastic about how a second Trump administration could be the tip of the world. Now, in 2021, I really feel that much more strongly.”
Recorded piece-by-piece in August in Clark’s youthful brother’s residence, “Prompt Evening” serves as an replace on the current state of Magnificence Tablet. One of many music’s key moments was an unintentional advert lib. “The unique line is ‘unhappy is alright’ and that’s in there,” Clark says, “however, close to the tip, Erin flubbed it and stated ‘scared is alright’—which is a lot better. Some folks have to be persuaded to be fucking scared. Loads of younger white idealist males who is perhaps righteous dudes may not have entry to the identical concern that minorities and ladies do.”
In that means, Magnificence Tablet’s music has by no means felt extra pressing, extra essential to the dialog. “I bear in mind [Dischord label head] Ian [MacKaye] used to say to me, ‘Folks will get what you’re doing about 10 or 15 years after you do it,’” Clark says. “And a part of me hated that. I hope it doesn’t take 10 or 15 years for folks to understand our music. I hope that individuals prefer it now.”