Praise for Believers –
“Believers is nothing short of divine” 4/5 Q
“A beautifully paced and structured album, with a powerfully singular mood” 4/5 Uncut
“An atmospheric blinder” 4/5 Time Out
“An effortlessness that proves powerfully evocative” 4.5/5 The Fly
“Hearing is believing” 4.5/5 The Sun
“A bewitching, enthralling album” 4/5 The Times
“His pensive, personal songs often evoke nocturnal drives on dusty highways with hypnotic allure”
4/5 Daily Telegraph
“Bondy gives his songs plenty of room to breathe, the results being quite often spellbinding” Observer
“Bondy’s aching voice adds vital warmth to this sublimely immersive atmos-rock”
“Songs that submerge you deeper and deeper in their dark charms” Indie on Sunday
Much to the singer’s amusement, Guitar Player magazine turned down the chance to talk to A.A. Bondy about his third and best solo album Believers on the grounds that it’s “too quiet”. It’s their loss- this languorous, sometimes clangourous set, co-produced by Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith’s Either/Or & Figure 8) with a sparse line-up of Macey Taylor on bass and Ben Lester doubling up on drums and impressively expressive pedal steel, is decidedly electric. Bondy himself says his guitar style is fundamentally the same as showcased on his previous records, though he deliberately used flatwound strings, notorious for their lack of sustain.
“I started with an idea of the four compass points,” explains Bondy of its genesis, “Brian Eno on one side, Motown on the other, gospel on the top and a question mark for the fourth, to represent whatever else I was taking in, be it books, movies or whatever.” This conceptual approach is audible at times. ‘Surfer King’, is a beautiful Smokey-infused soul tune, ‘The Twist’ an off-kilter soaring epic Eno would understand straight away while the ghostly march to glory of ‘The Heart Is Willing’, already available as a taster, surely nods to gospel’s brave certainties.
Bondy sings superbly throughout, with a relaxed confidence that matches any of his peers. He let these songs discover him. “I don’t know exactly what it is, but I know when I’ve found it, the briefest moment when you can stand outside yourself,” he says.
And there are several great examples on show. Maybe the gentle, but relentlessly circling ‘Skull and Bones’. Or the unexpected collision of ‘drmz’, new wave done like old country. Perhaps the moment when ‘Hiway/Fevers’ slips elegantly yet unexpectedly into its coda. Their author clearly spent time thinking about these songs. “I drove across the country four times in the last year. It’s weird driving across America by yourself. Funny things go by your window,” says the Alabama native, recently transplanted to Los Angeles, “That definitely informed some of what came later.”
Auguste Arthur Bondy is not a nostalgic, but he won’t pretend that things haven’t changed. Approvingly, he echoes Tom Waits’s complaint that people today suffer from a deficit of wonder. “They used to rely on their imaginations for entertainment,” he says, secure knowing that his latest record possesses mysteries even for its creator. Believers will likely be enjoyed by anyone who still has a sense of wonder.