Bisoux is a brand new band out of Atlanta, and their first self-titled EP packs quite the punch. Part 90’s alt-rock, part garage rock, part punk, and part pop, this six-song production is a rambunctious endeavor filled with rug-cutting drumbeats, catchy guitar hooks, rollicking basslines, and the delightfully sardonic musings of lead singer Devon Marie Stawkowski.
The album commences with the song “Honeybee” when a quick “one two three four” leads into an atypical syncopated rhythm. Guitarist Josh Smith begins a dissonant guitar riff reminiscent of Pixies or early Modest Mouse. Bassist Brandon DuBose plays an interlocking melody that skips around Alice McGown’s stutter-step drumbeat. Devon Stawkowski then chimes in with lyrics that are altogether romantically alluring, yet earnestly cynical, and this attitude runs throughout the entire EP. “I can’t wait to get you all over me. You can be the hooker, I’ll be the honeybee,” she sings in the first line. The statement immediately conjures thoughts of deep intimacy, yet the melody makes this honey seem slightly bitter, even when Devon sings, “So sweet is our love.” Sure enough, halfway through the song, the full scope of her assessment is revealed. “So sweet is our hate. You feel my poison rush through your veins. It’s a quick death, and such a shame.” I really enjoy the bittersweet disposition Devon takes on this poisonous affair. While the relationship seems doomed, she goes through with it anyway, regardless of the painful ending.
“This Moon” is a somber song that opens with muffled minor guitar strumming. Josh Smith then layers in beautiful finger picking, and the pattern holds while its intensity rises throughout the song. Devon characterizes herself as the moon, addressing her lover on a beach at night. Throughout history, the beach setting lit by a full moon is a textbook backdrop for romance, but in this scenario, impending doom lurks just ahead. This moon is bringing the tide in, and her lover will soon drown if he stays. “Waves up at your feet, the tide draws closer,” she despairingly sings. “My legs wrap around, pulling you deeper.” Once again, Devon juxtaposes romantic imagery with a tragic ending, which to me is a candid and realistic portrayal of a relationship that most people in this world have experienced. “It was nice to know you, but humans mostly drown. Try again at noon, low tide, maybe I’ll look out,” she sings at the end, completing this ruinous cycle, ready to start again.
The next two songs flow nicely as we cross the halfway point of the album. “Hypnotize” combines a bouncy swing beat with a garage rock sound. Brandon contributes a playful baseline coupled with Josh’s off-beat guitar strums, which continues the sarcastic tone of Devon’s current worldview. She asserts, “Money, love, lust, blood, I want it all.” She wants to experience the entire progression of a relationship, which includes the grizzly finish. The song “I Want” contains more infectious guitar picking from Josh Smith, and Alice McGown’s drumming skips alongside with punching bass-beat accents on the offbeats. Devon laments, “I just want your love, give it now. I just want your hate, take it now.” Haunting guitar feedback ebbs and flows in-between the lyrics. The impressive bridge drops the song to a low murmur which subsequently crescendos into a heartbreakingly radiant guitar solo. The guitar melodies begin to take on a personality of their own, countering Devon’s melancholy reports. Towards the end, she sings, “I just want to be free,” and it has become painfully clear that she’s knowingly addicted to destructive relationships, which she wants to free herself of, but they’re too enticing to avoid. Melodrama can be quite an addicting emotion.
Bisoux finishes strong on the EP with my two favorite tracks. “Lily” is a brilliant song that Brandon DuBose begins with head-nodding bassline triplets. The drums kick in with triplets on the high-hat, perfectly filling out the rhythm section. Josh shines brightest on “Lily” with intricate guitar picking that worms its way into your brain. He lets his guitar strum at the end of the first chorus feed back into the second verse, bending and warping underneath Devon’s vocals. It reminds me of the guitar solo in Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” feeding back into it’s final verse, and it gives me an eerie feeling of trying to hold onto an idea that’s already gone, and time keeps moving on. “Sliver back to your apartment, where I hope it still smells like me,” Devon groans. The bridge enters quite abruptly when the song completely changes pace, interrupted by a quick descending and ascending guitar melody, which then leads into a heavily reverberated solo, as if the song exploded into a giant cavern. “Lily” is Bisoux’s strongest song thus far, and shows great potential for the band’s future. The guitar work is excellent, harkening back to the 90’s alt-rock sound. It makes me want to put on Siamese Dream and reminisce about being 10-years old, experiencing a wall of distortion for the first time.
“Garden of Evil” is Bisoux’s consummate closing track. It is cream of the crop garage pop, reminding me of “Hate To Say I Told You So” by the Hives, but with a feminine pulse. The drumbeat thumps along with a groovy knee-slapping bassline, and the guitar-line mimics Devon’s vocals, which add a nice punch to her story. She sings about being seduced by the devil, which could be the devil himself, or a general term for these venomous men she can’t seem to stay away from. “‘Baby I love your look,’ he sang as he gawked.” Devon doesn’t want to give in yet. “‘I love your hips, those womanly curves. I might bite those lips, you’ll beg you’ll purr. Come on with me to my garden of evil.'” Try as she might, she eventually succumbs to his nefarious ways. Honestly, I would too if I were her.
The final lyric of the EP perfectly sums up Devon’s current condition: “I am a maiden in distress, in-between a ‘no’ and a ‘yes’. I can’t get the nerve to flee, and now I’m trapped for eternity.” This acknowledgment perfectly sums up a common situation that so many people go through, women and men alike. And while it’s not the best for your mental state, it sure does make for enthralling song writing. Bisoux is a very talented new band, and as long as Sid doesn’t kill Nancy, their future will put a stellar impression on the Atlanta music community.
Catch the band tonight at Drunken Unicorn. Tickets are $6 at the door!