Minnesota natives, The Scarlet Goodbye, have been building anticipation for their debut album for over a year, and Hope's Eternal does not disappoint. Jumping into the alternative/indie scene, this pair certainly makes a splash. Not only does the production sparkle, but the stories are shared with real grit and feeling. On the standout track, "Paris," the vocals call out, "Come fly with me or fly awake/we'll find out which is worse."
With this statement, the entire album lands, as it is made up of journeys of discovery, both with other people and within yourself.
There is no shortage of religious imagery amongst songwriters, but the opening track of Hope's Eternal sets a thoughtful and curious tone for the rest of the record on "Rosary." Both members of the duo, Daniel Murphy and Jeff Arundel, demonstrate their incredible songwriting skills, which only further intensify in collaboration with each other. Our narrator sets the scene, singing, "Love is like a rosary/ eyes wide open, but we still won't see." Despite choosing a complex rhyme scheme, with each ending word rhyming for the entire first verse, there is evidence of master hands at work. Nothing ever grows tired, only more and more intriguing over the consistent rhythm section.
After a quick visit to The Scarlet Goodbye's website, I learned that my favorite track off the album, "Paris," was the duo's first collaboration ever. It captures their raw creative chemistry most breathtakingly, telling the story of a love lost. Said lover has changed her name to Paris, and the writers utilize this to its fullest extent, saying, "Paris sounds so nice in spring if she doesn't kill you first." This line is so tongue-in-cheek, not only meant for the girl but also for the beautiful city she's named after. The narrator acts as our tour guide throughout the troubles Paris has caused him, as he states, "The part of you that can't attach is the part I can't replace/ The part of you that's broken is now frozen in the place." The bond that our narrator's lover broke cannot be fixed, and due to his storytelling, we're just as heartbroken as he is.
The entire record has twists and turns, a highlight being "Surprised." The vocals become far darker and grittier than on previous tracks, blurring lines for the listener like a London fog. It's the story of a woman desperate to blend in with the nightfall. Our narrator eloquently tells her story: "Her disguise, imitating who she wanted to be/caught in the night." This mysterious protagonist fits ideally among the haunting production, faintly plucked strings, and an even more intriguing instrumentation choice, a shaker in the rhythm section. There is no way to know what The Scarlet Goodbye will do next, and that is precisely what keeps their listeners on the edge of their seats.
Every great album has an equally great closer, and The Scarlet Keys passes with flying colors. The final track, "Minor Things," brings our hero's journey to a close with a reflection of the internal work he's accomplished, the lessons he's learned, and how it has all affected his personal relationships. He reflects, "...there were times when we would talk about the centuries/ Twenty-one years ago we felt so old/ and I don't think this is how it was meant to be." Despite coming so far, there's a truth faced in this track. When having a mirror held up to him, our narrator meets the possibilities that he chased away for the sake of the life he lives now. Each life is full of what-ifs, but as The Scarlet Goodbye alludes, when compared to the reality of life, these are just "Minor Things."
In recent years, alternative/indie has become the popular music of the industry. In a world where it isn't easy to stand out, on Hope’s Eternal, The Scarlet Goodbye takes their listener's hand and guides them through a vast and bright world, not only ahead but previously lived in. Murphy and Arundel's writing has an older brother-like quality, the kind of stories you might hear at a dimly lit kitchen table or over a bar late at night. Tales that, no matter how grand they may seem, can be related to by anyone.
Reviewed by Autumn Mackenzie DeSantis