“Hard-charging emo…waging an internal war between rhythmic and harmonic bombast, and everyone wins.” – Stereogum
“guitars clash, fire and sting like faulty synapses and frayed nerve endings…it’s potent stuff” – Pitchfork
“uplifting, sorrowful, and utterly riveting.” – Consequence of Sound
Debut albums are rarely fully-formed. They’re ground zero for artists to experiment, breathing room to allow musicians to form identities within their project. Atlanta, GA’s Blis. debut LP, No One Loves You, avoids the trope: it’s an album of a band that’s lived a lot of life, exploring sonic realms that on the surface, should not go together, but manage to find cohesion. The record mosaics their influences—the intricate rock riffs of American Football, Pedro the Lion’s midtempo balladry gone awry with crucial aggression, indie rock sensibility that has mainstream press publications referencing Modest Mouse and Silversun Pickups. It was their 2015 Starting Fires in My Parents House EP that inspired Sargent House Records to sign them, a cathartic, unexpected release that garnered press from top-tier places like Pitchfork, Stereogumand Consequence of Sound. It’s easy to see that something’s in the water—and Blis. have come to prove that it’s not just hype. Far from it.
The band officially started recording under the Blis. name a few years ago, but frontman/primary songwriter Aaron Gossett has been pursuing the project for much longer. “It’s pretty much the first musical endeavor I did after high school,” he recounts. “I started biting off more than I could chew so I had a couple of friends help me. We did a record that has since been taken offline. After that we kept going, certain people worked out, certain people didn’t and we finally solidified our lineup around 2012.” The quartet—drummer Jimi Ingman, bassist Luke Jones, guitarist Josiah Smith and Gossett—have found a system that works, though the process was arduous. In the two years since their last EP, they’re at home with their lineup, they’ve spent an impossible amount of time on the road (including a two month U.S. tour with now label mates And So I Watch You From Afar) and the most life-altering: Gossett became a father, having a son with his long-term girlfriend from a very different background—she grew up in a very wealthy, very white and very Christian household. “That’s the only thing I have to write about,” he says. “We kind of created our own family.”
No One Loves You is a record of complex musicianship and even more complicated emotional development—despondent songs that criticize the negative forces in Gossett’s life while never feeling particularly hopeless. Almost every track mentions God or religion. “You have these groups of people who feel obligated by tradition and habits to follow a belief system,” he explains. “If you get to the core of a lot of religions, they’re kind of awful: really disgusting homophobic, misogynistic shit.” It’s harsh, but near the heart of Blis. —there’s loving sentiment beneath the percussion, beneath the moments of riotous riffing and explosive texture. Even the title of the record itself reflects the duality of Gossett’s interpretation. “Lost Boy” is a love letter to his partner and a criticism of blind belief: “No one loves you / Like I do,” he sings, later “No god loves you like I do.” As a stand alone phrase, it’s something much darker.
After recording the album in the mountain home of drummer Jimi Ingman, Gossett is happier with this record than anything the band has done before, the kind of joy that comes from making something beautiful after growing pains. “Prior to this…I don’t think I had really been tested by life. I was a totally different person,” he pauses. “I hope that people who listen to it think for themselves. Question the things you’re submitting yourself to.” Perhaps those are ambitious aims for a debut, but Blis. is coming out of the gate swinging. The questions is, are you with them?