Those familiar with My Goodness's debut album, 2014's Shiver + Shake, might be surprised by its follow-up. The Seattle duo considers Scavengers a natural successor to that first record, but the members are also aware that it's a marked difference from the loud, in-your-face blues/punk/rock they started out making. While the ghosts of that sound can be heard within these 11 songs, My Goodness has added numerous layers to what they do and who they are.
"These songs have been about two years in the making," explains drummer turned multi-instrumentalist Andy Lum. "We started writing for this record right after we stopped touring on Shiver + Shake, and it's such a new direction for us. We've been just itching to get these songs out. We've reimagined what My Goodness sounds like, but we've managed to retain the spirit that we started with. It's a healthy evolution of our sound and we're incredibly excited about people hearing what true collaboration and songwriting sounds like between the both of us."
Formed in 2012 by Lum and vocalist/guitarist Joel Schneider, My Goodness five years later is a much more expansive band. For a start, Lum switched from being behind the kit to keys and guitar, and he took a more active role in the songwriting process. They rounded out the sound with a four-person live lineup that includes Duke Evers' Josh Starkel and Kyle Veazey on bass and drums, respectively. The band's listening habits shifted, too, partly through touring that first record. The result is that the new songs are imbued with much more nuance than anything My Goodness had written before. Yes, there is still a fair amount of visceral power present, but it's tempered with moments of tenderness and vulnerability, as well as euphoric electronic flourishes, both of which take these songs to previously uncharted, though not unimagined, places.
"We always wanted My Goodness to be a hybrid of rock, blues, and hip-hop," says Lum. "We started to scratch the surface of that when we started demoing, and we began to really pour more of ourselves into that vision. I think there's a really important exercise in letting go of the preconceived notions about your band."
Of course, taking such bold steps didn't come without its risks, especially for a band whose audience and hometown was so attuned to big riffs and loud guitars. At the same time, both Lum and Schneider wanted to stay true to their initial vision of what the band should and could be. When they played a gig at home showcasing the new material as it was being developed, and the response was incredibly encouraging.
"I was nervous for people to hear what we had to offer," admits Lum, "if only because it was such a different direction. But I think what I forgot is that music listeners love to hear evolution as well—as long as you're honest about that evolution and you're not trying to jump on some sort of trend."
One listen to Scavengers and it's clear there's no bandwagon jumping. Yes, these songs offer a different side to the band, opening up plenty of doors for where the band can go from here, but at their core they're full of heart. Scavengers is a deeply atmospheric album. Whether it's the lilting but insistent grace of "Silver Lining," the gentle melancholy of "White Witches," or the more full-throttle, chugging melody of "Haunt," it's a record that ebbs and flows seamlessly between euphoria and melancholy.
"It's a record that should make you happy and pumped up at the beginning," says Lum, "and then make you a little more introspective—and get a little darker—towards the end. I hope people can go with those peaks and valleys that we've purposefully put in this record. Whatever situation they're in, I want this record to feel like a soundtrack for someone that makes them more ready to attack their day."
Scavengers is out this Friday on Votiv Music and Freakout Records. Pre-order it here.
Mischa Pearlman loves to write about good as heck guitars. Check out more of his articles for Noisey here.