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Jay Cobb Anderson (vocals, lead guitar, harmonica) / Kellen Asebroek (vocals, rhythm guitar, piano) / Mimi Naja (vocals, mandolin, electric & acoustic guitar) / Jeff Leonard (bass) / Tyler Thompson (drums, banjo)On their fifthfull-length, Watching It All Fall Apart, Fruition transform pain and heartache into something trulyglorious. With their songwritingsharper and more nuanced than ever before—and their sonic palette more daringlyexpansive—the Portland, Oregon-based band’s full-hearted intensity ultimately givesthe album a transcendent power.“The songs are mostly breakup songs,” says Asebroek. “There was love and now it’s gone—we fucked it up, or some outside circumstancebrought it to an end. It’s about dealing with all thatbut still having hope in your heart, even if you’re feeling a little lost and jaded.”In a departure from their usual DIYapproach, Fruition teamed up with producer/mixer Tucker Martine(My Morning Jacket, The Decemberists, First Aid Kit, case/lang/veirs) to adorntheir folk-rooted sound with delicatelycrafted elements of psychedelia and soul. Showcasingthe sublimeharmoniesthe bandfirst discovered duringan impromptu busking sessionin 2008, Watching It All Fall Apartalso finds Fruition more fully embracingtheir rock-and-roll sensibilities and bringing a gritty vitality to each track.“We’ve been a band almost ten years now, and we’re at the point of being comfortable in our skin and unafraid to be whatever we want as time goes on,” Andersonnotes. Recorded in tendays at Flora Recording &Playbackin Portland, Watching It All Fall Apartcame to life with thesame kinetic urgencyfoundinFruition’s live sound. “It’s kind of an impossible task, this idea of transmuting the live energy into something you can play on your stereo, but I feel like this record comes close to that,” says Asebroek. At the same time, the band pursued a purposeful inventiveness that resulted intheir most intricately textured work to date. “Tucker helped us push ourselves tocreate something that glistens in subtle little ways that you might not even pick up on at first,” says Asebroek. “We got to play around with all this analog gear and these weird old keyboards we wouldn’t ordinarily use, like a bunch of kids in a toy store where everything is free.”On lead single “I’ll Never Sing Your Name,” that unrestrained creativity manifests in a fuzzed-out, gracefully chaotic track complete withsing-along-readychorus. Built onbrilliantlypiercinglyrics(“And all those kisses that you were blowing/Somehow they all got blown right out”), the songechoesthe album’s emotional arcbypainfully chartingthe journey from heartache to acceptance. “It’s about going through a breakup, moping around, and then finally getting to the point where it’s like, ‘Okay—I’m done with feeling this waynow,’” says Anderson.Throughout Watching It All Fall Apart, the band’slet-the-bad-times-roll mentality reveals itself in ever-shifting tones and moods. On the stark and sleepy “Northern Town,” Naja’s smoldering vocals channelthe ache of longing, the track’stwangy guitar lines blending beautifully with its swirling string arrangement. One of the few album cutsto have already appeared in Fruition’s setlist, “There She Was” sheds the heavy funk influence of its live version and gets reimagined as a shimmering, soulful number documenting Asebroek’s real-life run-in with an ex at a local bar.Meanwhile, “Turn to Dust” emerges asa weary butgiddy piece of psych-pop chroniclingthe endof a failed romance. The song’s opening lyric also lends the album its title, which partly servesas “a commentary on the
general state of the worldtoday,” accordingto Asebroek. “Even if you’re mostly an optimistic person, it’s hard notto feel down when you look atall the insanity happening right now,” he says.While those unflinchingly intimate breakup songs form the core of Watching It All Fall Apart, Fruition infuse an element of social commentary intosongslike “FOMO” as well.Writtenon the Fourth of July, with its references to wasted white girlsand cocaine cowboys, the mournful yet strangely reassuring trackunfolds as what Anderson calls“an anti-party party song.”“It’s about one of those situations where you said you’d go to party but you really don’t want to go, because you know it’s going to be the same old bullshit,” he says. “The song is a call to defuse that guilt in your brain.” And onthe sweetlyuplifting“Let’s Take It Too Far,” the band offersone of the album’s most purelyromantic momentsbypayinglovingtribute tomusic as solace and salvation (“But don’t you worry ’bout dyin’/’Cause there’s no better way to go/We’ll sing until we’re out of honey/Then pour the gravel down our throats”).From song to song, Fruition display the dynamicmusicality they’ve shown since makingtheir debut with 2008’sHawthorne HoedownLP. Through the years, the band has evolved from a rootsy, string-centric outfit to a full-fledged rock act, eventually takingthe stage at such major festivals asBonnarooand Telluride Bluegrass(a set that inspired Rolling Stoneto praise their“raucous originals filled with heartfelt lyrics and stadium-worthy energy”). Following the release of 2016’s Labor of Love, Fruition again made the rounds at festivals across the U.S., prompting Rolling Stoneto feature the band on its “8 Best Things We Saw”at DelFest2016.In choosing a closing track for Watching It All Fall Apart, Fruition landed on “Eraser”—a slow-building, gentlydeterminedepic delivering a quiet message of hope in its final line: “Let it help you heal.”“Because there’s so much heartbreak on thisalbum, we wanted to end on Kellen singing that last line very sweetly,” explainsAnderson. “The whole point of having all these sad songs is helping people to let those emotions out—and then hopefully when they get to the end, they feel a little better about everything they’ve gone throughalong the way.”