October 31, 2018
It Looks Sad has been shrinking since their formation in 2012. Originally a quartet named It Looks Sad, That’s Why I Said It’s You, the band has gone through several lineup changes that have left them with a shortened name and now two members: guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Turner and drummer Alex Ruiz. Six years into their career and they are finally ready to release their debut full-length album, Sky Lake, on November 9. The first taste of the new LP, a song called “Light,” came as a shock to many listeners: the song is only about a minute long, and consists of drum machines, synthesizers, and heavily processed/tuned vocals. Fans of the band’s earlier work, like their 2015 track “Creature,” were surprised to not hear the same emo-leaning songwriting and production. Turner picked “Light” as the first single for precisely that reason: as a sort of palate cleanser to show that they aren’t content with staying stagnant. “I really wasn’t surprised by the response, and I wanted it to kind of be like that because I think people hadn’t really realized the amount of time that had gone on from the EPs to now. We get new fans online all the time that, to them, the EPs are really new, but we don’t really sound like that. I thought we should probably come out the gate with something very different and surprising. I like it when artists and bands do that.” He also cautions audiences from judging the whole album based off the first single. “It’s a fifteen track album. Just because one track is something it doesn’t mean that the entire thing is about to be something that you have to hate. It did make me really laugh that apparently we had become an electronic band,” said Turner.
The album was recorded earlier this year in Memphis, TN with producer Calvin Lauber, who most notably worked on Julien Baker’s Turn Out The Lights. It features a juxtaposition between two sides of the band: shorter, synthesizer-based tracks that help create moods and traditional guitar/bass/drum rock songs. “I write both ways all of the time, so to me they go together. I really like that the shorter ones seem to carry a story through them, and they all fit well with the other full band sounding songs,” Turner explained. “We were both really into that kind of thing and it was fun to try something different with the band.”
So far four singles have been released to promote the album: “Light” was the first, and then the more traditional “Bike,” “Faded,” and “Drool” have been made available. Each of those tracks have been accompanied with their own artwork, created by Turner himself. “I’ve just been using an iPad, and it’s been really fun to do the art for those. I’ve done all of the EPs and the Sky Lake cover. I went to school for illustration so it’s a chance for me to still do that. I thought it was neat to pair the songs with a random character. I’m a fan of the colored pencil, thick line kind of look and I think that it pairs well with how the album goes.”
Sky Lake covers a lot of ground over its 15 tracks, but Jimmy Turner is particularly drawn to if anyone can pick up on the themes that go across the entire album. “I’m more interested in what people think these things are about. For me Sky Lake has a kind of fantasy thing going on. I don’t know if people will pick up on it at first, but there is a story about a water spirit or witch or demon that is going on throughout the entire thing. There are little narratives and songs that have nods to each other, and I’m excited to see what people get out of the entire thing.”
Despite how long it took for It Looks Sad to release their first album, the band is already looking towards their next release. “Since I’m always writing, I’m going to try to have the next album getting recorded semi-soon if I can because I’d like for us to be ahead of time, and then hopefully be able to tour a lot more and have more records out and under our belt.”
It Looks Sad may only be releasing their debut album, but they are already subverting any expectations that people have for them. Sky Lake is confident and chocked full of catchy hooks and dreamy soundscapes. It’s a perfect album to drift away to in a quiet, dark room as you let the music wash over you.