EUGENIA POST MERIDIEM - like i need a tension (Album Review)

The name Eugenia comes from the Greek word for 'nobility'. It is the given name of Eugenia Fera, who fronts the Italian art-rock band Eugenia Post Meridiem. With post meaning 'after' and meridiem meaning 'after noon', the band name conjures images of its enigmatic frontperson after her third espresso, hyped up and ready for anything. The group's sophomore album, "like i need a tension", is a motivational listen. However, it doesn't galvanize with cheap tricks but rather with its loose song structures, creative vocal techniques, and solid foundation of restrained rock music that leans towards a capricious funk/jazz amalgam bent on making you move.

Formed in 2017, guitarist Giovanni Marini, bassist Matteo Traverso, drummer Matteo Gherardi Vignolo, and Fera on vocal and guitar intuitively know when and when not to step on each other's toes. Vignolo especially gives a grounding element to Fera's decidedly airy approach, with his drumming styles seamlessly alternating between jazz, funk, and rock. Yet it's Fera who brings the grandness of character. Like an intellectual bored of the literature, Fera turns to invention, pitting philosophical musings of life in 'eternal transient' with her amusement-park-ride vocal melodies, which peak and dip around dichotomous juxtapositions of allegro and larghetto tempos, weird chords, and sudden changes of mood. At the same time, Marino and Traverso carefully apply their vibrant guitars and keys to the musical melee. In this harmonious combability of differing intentions, Eugenia Post Merideim find their inimitable sound.

The opening track, "unchained will", is representative of the palatial reach "like i need tension" has. Building from a mid-tempo and bass-heavy indie stew to the hushed refrain of the confessional lyrics "I want to be so strong". Some tracks, such as the psychedelic "whisper" and the epic chamber-pop jam "ocean flaws", are less temperamental, more reposed, though no less enjoyable than the math-rock intentions and sprechgesang of "tiny perspectives" or the ultra-moody "crucial spring", which morphs from industrial post-rock to emotive adult contemporary. While there are no weak tracks here, the two that stand out as the most accomplished, the unforgettable single "willpower" and the patient and gothic-tinged closing track "maze of gazes", show Eugenia Post Meridiem operating at peak efficiency and are evidence of a band in full reigns of their erratic power.  

Suppose there is a downfall to Eugenia Post Meridiem. In that case, they are only ever idiosyncratic. They refuse to fall back on reliable songwriting traditions, seemingly incapable of giving the listener anything in the form of straightforward motifs and preferring to jam as many surprises into their structures as possible. "like i need a tension" is an auditory autostereogram, which takes a while before shapes can be discerned. Thankfully, the group seem unconcerned about this, and those of us who stick around will discover a friendly, exciting, and rewarding thirty minutes of original art rock.