Sunday, February 11, 2024

Kwolek Experiments With Warped Sounds and Spins a Tale of Misfit Youth in ‘Cemetery Days’

Rock music and troubled teenagers have always gone hand in hand: the former providing much-needed solace to the latter, and the latter offering a topical and heartfelt subject matter for the former.

From the gloomy to the rebellious, there could be a whole compilation of tracks which have told the stories of young people who felt like they didn’t quite fit in – and often like they didn’t really want to. Often such songs have been uproarious, in-your-face, a challenge open to anyone willing to pick it up. 

Colorado singer-songwriter Kwolek now adds his own take on the subject matter in his new single, ‘Cemetery Days’ – the title a reference to the protagonists of the tale spun on the song, two oddball teenagers who spend their time in cemeteries. 

As is perhaps apt for the angle he’s chosen, it is an immersive, meditative track, with an almost gothy atmosphere to it in places: early impressions, on a first listen, evoke memories of The Cure and Bauhaus, among others. But in this piece of storytelling-through-music Kwolek is also working with something a little bit stranger, and repeat listens start unravelling the tangled web of a track that is first and foremost a clever piece of composition, and a complex one, for all of its emotional immediacy.

It is a song that summons an atmosphere as much as it tells a story, and it does so by giving its sound depth rather than breadth: take a peek past the gloomy atmosphere with its deliberate, slight distortions and you will find a number of smaller, pointed touches which all come together in contributing to the final effect. The little trills of sliding guitar suggest a bubbling chaos ready to be unleashed right under the surface, a surprisingly concise depiction in music of the emotional swings of teenage years; the slower, more open bridges feel like catching your breath before a dive. Most striking of all is the treatment of the rhythm section, which comes unexpected for a track that has a relatively slower pace, but is surprisingly effective once you notice it: almost restless, constantly moving, rippling through the song in a way that becomes almost hypnotic. Some interesting chord progressions add to this feeling of constant movement, almost an evolution, contributing to a dynamic mood for a track that with its six minutes of runtime and ebb-and-flow of sound manages to not feel long at all.

There are some songs which feel like they are genuinely in touch with something deeper and just a little bit darker, and ‘Cemetery Days’ is one of them. You may call it goth-pop or melodic rock or try and find a new definition altogether for a piece of music that doesn’t seem to be overly concerned with genre. Or you can simply enjoy the experience of constant flow and emotional portraiture that Kwolek manages to conjure in a very intense, unusual, and ultimately touching track.


Chiara Strazzulla


Image: ‘Cemetery Days’ Official Single Cover

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