In recent years, public mental health awareness has grown, and Athens band Saint Syzygy is releasing a new album to continue this growth.
The group’s newest album “All of My Friends Are Sick” debuts Friday. Saint Syzgy is a four-piece outfit made up of Ian Hemerlein, Jake Cooper, Alex Nicholson and Tyler Ryan. The new album was produced right here in the Classic City by Hemerlein at The Glow Recording Studio.
The album focuses heavily on the social stigma around mental health issues. Proceeds from digital album copies on Bandcamp and limited vinyl sales will be donated to Nuçi’s Space, band member Ian Hemerlein said in an email.
Warning for listeners: The album dives headfirst into the discussion of mental health problems, which at some points can get pretty heavy. If you’re particularly sensitive to these topics, be sure to listen with care.
All of My Friends Are Sick
The intro and title track of the album starts off slowly and methodically. Driving percussion, guitar and bass build energy as the song progresses. “All of our friends are sick, they don’t yearn for doctors/they need warm hands to lift them high out of shadows/ cast by themselves to hurt themselves,” sings the vocalist, addressing the problems of mental health issues on individuals. The lyrics continue to address how all the singer’s friends “are sick and dying,” presumably from the mental health issues referenced earlier in the track.
She Wants to Lose Motor Function
“She Wants to Lose Motor Function” is faster than the last track, injecting some energy into the album. The song has a more punk-rock feel, with the vocals teetering between singing and screaming. The chorus is about a girl who “wants to lose motor function,” a not-so-subtle reference to substance abuse.
Record scratches, synthesizers and a steady percussion beat drive the third track on the album, which almost feels like an interlude. What sounds like dialogue from a 1950s radio show replaces lyrics. You can’t help but listen in to unpack the conversation happening between the voices in the background of the track, which are accompanied by maniacal laughter and brakes screeching.
The Man Hangs Rope
Starting with a somber guitar feature, “The Man Hangs Rope” has an air of desperation from the beginning. The lyrics match this energy by focusing more on the frustrating, and sometimes seemingly never-ending, battle against mental health problems. “The past I hate/ because it cannot move it cast its shadows torching my whole view,” sing the vocalists towards the end of the track. The conflict isn’t resolved at the end of the track, either, as it carries into the next songs on the album.
Frown in Every Frame
The fifth track on the album returns to the more classic punk-rock sound displayed in “She Wants to Lose Motor Function.” This track is one of the longer ones on the album, clocking in around 5:27. It covers a lot of ground during this time, starting with a fast, edgy bass riff, but cooling off by the end of the song where the tempo slows almost to a halt.
He Was a Killer
“He Was A Killer” starts off with a slower tempo and gains energy as it progresses. Lyrically, the song tells the almost parallel story of two killers— a man and a woman— who are out for blood. Over the last half of the track, the lyrics, “They will find you if you let them/take our kin to hell again,” are repeated by a single vocalist. I really enjoyed the musicality of this refrain, making this one of my favorite tracks.
“...dull” removes metaphor and analogy from the album’s messages regarding mental health, substituting sung lyrics with a monologue by a female narrator. The monologue blatantly addresses the anxieties that so often accompany mental illnesses. Throughout the track, the narrator repeats “I’m sorry,” a sentiment commonly expressed by those who are depressed, overwhelmed or anxious, even if their struggles aren’t necessarily their fault.
Okay Now What
“Okay Now What” lives up to its name by contemplating where to go following the experiences and conversations dealing with mental illness earlier on the album. The chaotic, uptempo sound and heavy subject matter found earlier on the album are replaced by gentle acoustic guitar, a soothing bassline and calming vocals. I tend to gravitate towards calmer music, so these features cemented the final track’s place as my favorite track on the album.