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Peace Will Grind You Down, the debut LP from D.C. quartet Luna Honey, does a great deal with very little. It’s the kind of record that’s perfect for an evening of introspection. Unlike a lot of the other more dance/pop-centric acts on BLIGHT. Records, Peace Will Grind You Down isn’t likely to draw anyone toward a dance floor. Anchored around the husband-and-wife duo of bassist Levi Flack and vocalist/guitarist Maura Pond, the band conjures the gothic, occasionally oppressive, and always beautiful atmosphere of musicians like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Swans. It’s the kind of spooky, minimalist music that’s great for zoning out while still offering enough twists and turns to warrant constant attention.
Peace Will Grind You Down is a damn dark sounding record, held together with low-end frequencies. But that darkness comes with a certain degree of light at the center. “If you’re unfamiliar with dark-sounding music, you think it sounds really depressing and dark,” says guitarist Benjamin Schurr (Br’er, Swoll), “but if you’re familiar with it, it sounds very holy and very spiritual.” This statement rings true, as many of the tracks draw heavily on drone music. Leaning on repetitive bass lines and sparse guitar work creates an almost meditative nature in many of the tracks, especially the titular “Peace Will Grind You Down.”
Flack’s bass takes center stage, with a single bass line providing the only real rhythm on the track and laying a foundation for Pond’s reverb-drenched vocals and— later—Schurr’s shimmer-laden guitar. Very little happens until three minutes into the nearly six-minute track. Pond begins hitting higher notes, expanding the relatively limited range she showcased up to this point, and Schurr’s guitars become more and more prominent. It’s the kind of gradual layering of sounds that folks familiar with the BLIGHT. Records catalog will recognize, and what makes what would otherwise be a rather one-note title track into something quite compelling.
For all of the record’s darkness, Peace Will Grind You Down is not a nihilistic offering. “I think nihilism is something that you use to distance yourself from the rest of the world, ultimately,” says Pond. “Nothing out there matters, and also I don’t matter. I just feel like, what’s the point in that?” In a lot of ways, Schurr points out, it’s easy to be a nihilist right now, and it’s sometimes hard to disagree with him. Turn on the news and it’s hard not to get depressed and feel like life isn’t worth living. Luna Honey leans into the anger and disgust inspired by contemporary politics, but shies away from suggesting that there’s simply nothing to be done. As Flack points out, “Nihilism doesn’t change anything, and it never will.”
Overall, Peace Will Grind You Down is a stunningly atmospheric album that does a wonderful job of paying homage to its various influences while finding a fresh approach to their dark and brooding sound. The minimalist compositions occasionally feel a touch too sparse, but that’s likely why the band has recently added Madeline Billhimer on baritone saxophone for live performances and future releases. If this first offering is any indication of what’s to come, we’re all in for a devilish good time.
Luna Honey will be playing a record release show on Friday, July 13th with Among The Rocks & Roots and Social Station at the Hole in the Sky Collective.