There is a long and misleading mythology that perpetuates the “rock star lifestyle” trope. Drugs, sex, and distorted perspectives mingle in a vortex of desires and opulence of all sorts. But what is the cost of this continuing ideal, of a way of life that is often emulated but rarely sustained without considerable loss? For husband-wife duo Christine and Chad McAllister, the musicians behind Portland indie rock outfit Bees in a Bottle, that question lies at the heart of their latest album, The Sun Left and Took the Moon with It.
More specifically, they were concerned with documenting the tertiary lives left broken in service to this way of thinking and acting. Both have gone through their share of personal desolation, whether losing loved ones through suicide or sudden medical emergencies, and so their music reflects both their process of dismantling the romantic allure of this outdated and reckless concept and the ways in which they work through grief of a much more personal nature. The album is filled with melancholy detours and introspective asides, journeys into darkness and the hopeful routes of rehabilitation – it’s a testament to their understanding of pain as both devastator and motivator.
The album opens with “Wet Widow”, a propellant but moody slice of indie rock that conjures the dreamy haze of The Jesus and Mary Chain or Cocteau Twins as channeled through the reserved impressionism of The National. There are moments when all seems ready to explode but the band pulls it back from the edge to offer something more concerned with internal insight than any unchecked volatile eruptions. The guitars still maintain a definite serration and angularity while Christine’s voice pierces through our emotional defenses to engage with the thumping heart of our collective trauma.
The accompanying video, featuring footage of dancer Sophia MacMillan, was shot and edited by Montetre – with additional footage provided by photographer Jay Eads in collaboration with Fermata Ballet Collective. MacMillan’s movements are superimposed against the band’s performance and provides an unpredictably tactile adjunct that pairs perfectly with the emotional complexity of the song. As the band grapples with personal struggle so too does MacMillan wrestle with her own internal creativities. The clip functions as a mirror into how different people approach and process pain and uncertainty and the inner workings of our subconscious.