Covey – Class Of Cardinal Sin

The album deals with trauma in its own idiosyncratic but strangely relatable way.

Label: Rise Records
Released: 18th June 2021


After a strange and isolated 2020, which saw Brooklyn-based Covey transform a lonely tour across North America into a fully-fledged album, the British songwriter is back with a new record, ‘Class of Cardinal Sin’. 

Delving more wholeheartedly into the eclectic folk-punk that’s characterised his previous output, the album deals with the residues of childhood trauma and bleak schoolboy days. Brushed equally with plaintive nostalgia and screaming anxiety, Covey discusses not cute scenes of bike riding and home-baked muffins, but rather the time when a grown man poured scalding coffee on his sister’s head, and the guilty freedom of the first Christmas away from the family home.

There’s a strained lightness in his jaunty vocals that isn’t as at odds with the album’s themes as it might first seem – skimming just behind the geniality, anger and reckless worry jostle for attention. The falsely jovial façade mimics the sinister undertones of folk culture, toying with the neat veneer of neighbourly smiles that suburban culture peddles. In dealing with the aftershock of childhood, Covey reverts to childish petulance in response to upsettingly mature events. The youthful reactions and campfire chords mingle despondency with sumptuous self-indulgence, tarnishing depression with a crooked golden grin.

The whole record is shot through with off-kilter indie pop, teasing humour throughout even as the tracks teeter on the brink. And if they ever get too close to the edge, he has a trick up his sleeve to bring it back around, like the carousel tinklings that take over from the desolate landscape the lyrics paint in ‘Local Anaesthesia’. Like that friend who only ever jokes about awful events, the album deals with trauma in its own idiosyncratic but strangely relatable way, working through pain in real-time as the brilliantly effective collection of songs play through.

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