SeeYouSpaceCowboy delivers a theatrical Coup de Grâce embracing apocalyptic visions of serious silliness they dance as the world burns.

Release date: April 19, 2024 | Pure Noise Records | Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

There’s quite an overlap between film, theater, and music. Just try to imagine a movie or play sans music. Many films (Jaws, Psycho, Star Wars) are defined by their iconic scores, and in the case of musicals the link between performance and music is inseparable. So while counterintuitive at first glance it makes a kind of sense for a purely auditory medium to be so entangled with a visual experience. On their third full length album SeeYouSpaceCowboy invites listeners to a neo-noir world of the band’s creation. “Allow Us to Set the Stage” opens up Coup de Grâce with saxophone and what sounds like the voice over from a film noir. Lest you get too comfortable, blast beats and screaming quickly join the mix to give a fairly representative taste of the musical odyssey SeeYouSpaceCowboy have in store.

Anemonia is nostalgia for a past that never existed. This is the exact feeling that Coup de Grâce explores overtly through a filter of cabaret, burlesque, and film noir with a backdrop of flames. To boil the entire concept down to a single image: dancing as the world burns. On their last outing, 2021’s The Romance of Affliction, SeeYouSpaceCowboy’s perceptive gaze was intensely focused inward on struggles with addiction, mental illness, and the darker sides of intimacy. Coup de Grâce is looking outward at a world on fire and wrestling with the thoughts and feelings provoked by these tumultuous times.

SeeYouSpaceCowboy play a style of chaotic hardcore self-described as ‘sasscore’; basically early 2000s MySpace scenecore. If you’re thinking of Alesana, Enter Shikari, and Bring Me the Horizion’s first album you’re in the right ballpark. But where those bands specifically and scene music in general always came off as artificial and a bit hollow, SeeYouSpaceCowboy have authenticity in their hearts and fire in their veins.

Coup de Grâce is best viewed as a series of vignettes. Interlaced scenes from a movie that never existed about a past that never was. The music video for “Respite For A Tragic Tale / Silhouettes In Motion” is the perfect showcase. The scene changes from the intimate black and white lounge affair of “Respite” to the full color assault of “Silhouettes”. The sync-up between clapping and drums as an interlude between scenes is pure aces. In fact, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the outstanding production value on display here. This is far beyond typical music video quality, the costume work and set design are simply fantastic. Playing once again right into the theatrical hand SeeYouSpaceCowboy are dealing.

“To the Dance Floor for Shelter” is about the scene as a refuge. It’s a song about going to shows to escape. To have an outlet for unhinged self expression and some semblance of the freedom to simply be. Speaking with Kerrang, lead singer Connie Sgarbossa explains: ‘On the album and in the way that it’s framed, there’s always going to be those little hints of queer culture, like in our music videos. It’s not explicitly in the lyrics, but definitely in my own little headcanon. A big part of being attracted to that burlesque backroom speakeasy freedom is that that’s where queer people would be allowed to exist. At the time, the only place that you could exist is in those backrooms, in that seclusion.‘ I appreciate the juxtaposition between the intimate dance scene of the music video and the chaotic wild rumpus of any hardcore show. You run to the dance floor for shelter. Sometimes it’s to have a stolen moment of seclusion other times it’s the warm embrace of community. Slow dance or slam dance the scene abides.

Partnerships and parallels abound throughout Coup de Grâce. The first several tracks “Set the Stage”. “Respite For A Tragic Tale” and “To The Dance Floor For Shelter” share smokey lounge act ambiance. The first and last song both start slow and explode chaotically only to fade out. Fires flare up, burn out, and wither to embers. The dance-punk elements of “Rhythm and Rapture” mirror those on “Lubricant Like Kerosene”. Even the album cover displays a pair of lovers. The imagery of a city on fire echoes across the album most notably on “Set The Scene”, “Subtle Whispers To Take Your Breath Away”, and “Curtain Call”. The magic of this album is in transitions. Between songs, between ideas, between harsh and soft sounds, clean and harsh vocals. The scenes change effortlessly with pageantry and grace.

References to love and fire the core twin thematic emblems of Coup de Grâce are pervasive from start to finish. These two pillars combine in the form of burning desire. Lust is perhaps the strongest subtextual theme of the album. Lust isn’t inherently bad per se, it can be thought of as reckless love or love with higher potential for consequences. At least in the undertones SeeYouSpaceCowboy are acknowledging that if you play with fire you might get burned.

“Lubricant like Kerosene” is a bold exploration of infatuation and sexual desire. Lustful bodies collide like combatants in a grand coliseum where inhibitions and shame are ignored. The music video speaks for itself in a language of grinding moans and impassioned kisses. Sonically and visually carefree, with a touch of exhibition. Lyrically on “Lubricant” and elsewhere, SeeYouSpaceCowboy reckons with the wounds inflicted by the darker side of romance. Deceit takes a heavy toll on relationships still painfully burning long after passion’s fire has died down and fun times fade into memory.

Sonically Coup de Grâce is a veritable roller coaster ride. Nearly every song has a breakdown of some kind, especially brutal are those found on “And the Two Slipped Into the Shadows” and “Silhouettes in Motion”. Most tracks have infectious pop hooks with sing-along gang vocals. There are quiet sections as well that allow for contemplation, but there’s never a dull moment. Another highlight of this album is the dueling vocal work constantly oscillating between harsh and clean. Connie’s screams, growls, and sassy cleans are as hard hitting as ever. But I was particularly taken this time around with the vocals from bassist Taylor Allen and guitarist Ethan Sgarbossa. Especially prominent on “And the Two Slipped Into the Shadows” and “Chewing the Scenery”. The bouncy melodic cleans on “Sister With A Gun” strangely reminded me of Panic at the Disco!’s “Lying is the Most Fun…”. This is to say nothing of the ethereal angelic guest vocals from iRis.EXE, Kim Dracula, Courtney Laplante, and nothing,nowhere. Between the lounge acts, melodic interludes, and cinematic inspiration, SeeYouSpaceCowboy have managed to make a softer album that hits harder. After all, it’s the rise and fall of the saw’s teeth that makes the blade so sharp.

The influence of chaotic hardcore bands like The Blood Brothers, Every Time I Die and Heavy Heavy Low Low are obvious, but the musical styles SeeYouSpaceCowboy are flirting with on Coup de Grâce are legion. First and foremost there’s the very raison d’etre of the entire project in the cabaret piano driven lounge music of “Set the Scene”, “Respite For A Tragic Tale”, and “Curtain Call”. Then there are more subtle elements such as the indie rock of “Subtle Whispers” and “Chewing the Scenery”. The melodic sections of these songs with their emotive vocals recall artists as varied as Arctic Monkeys to Modest Mouse. “Lubricant Like Kerosene”, “Rhythm and Rapture”, and “Sister With A Gun” have this catchy dance-punk element to them that could easily feel at home on a Death From Above 1979, LCD Soundsystem, or She Wants Revenge tune.

SeeYouSpaceCowboy aren’t here to champion a cause or make some grand statement. When your identity is under siege just showing up becomes an act of rebellion. ‘My mere existence is a form of protest in the scene and to the world,‘ says Connie Sgarbossa. SeeYouSpaceCowboy  are much more interested in painting a picture and capturing a feeling. On Coup de Grâce they are here to have fun and it shows. These songs are danceable and carefree. The palpable energy and visceral passion evident on their records translates effortlessly to their live performances. With a flair for the dramatic they smash around the stage, crowd surf into the audience, and join fans on gang vocals. For an even more intimate look at SYSC live and in the studio check out our feature on The New Core.

Coup de Grâce serves as a death blow to shame and hesitation. Transcending fear and doubt, SeeYouSpaceCowboy courageously strike forth with everything they’ve got and lay it all out on the dance floor. Brutal honesty shines through when art is made for the sake of art without reservation. SeeYouSpaceCowboy have thrown off the shackles of expectation and there’s a freedom in that which they have embraced with unbridled creativity.

Leave a Reply