Desi and Cody’s sophomore effort, the self-described “dark comedy,” Yes, This is Killing Us, is an absolute delight. The duo – coupled in matrimony and in music – fuse their Tulsa, OK roots with nostalgic new wave synths, sun drenched harmonies and chamber pop textures into the futuristic folk that defines their latest release.
Released this month on Horton Records, the album opens with the declaration of “It’s Our Thing” – pairing Cody’s psychedelic, arpeggiated synth textures and melodic guitar riffs with Desi’s soft but determined vocal crooning, “this is the dream / one, two, three, four / and if we believe we can get real far / it’s our thing…” perfectly setting the tone for the rest of the album and for this stage of Desi and Cody’s career.
The LP’s second track, “It Happened Again,” may be the band’s thesis statement.
The album was written after a rowdy and turbulent time following the loss of both of their fathers and a flirtation with heavy drinking. Cody’s upbeat lead vocal laments, “oh no, where do we go, where do we even begin” but never loses its bounce.
“The entire album,” Cody says, “is more or less about touring and making records with your spouse. Desi and I were drinking a lot because our last album was about losing our fathers. We went to Europe and I relapsed on alcohol after nine years of sobriety. At first it was nice… romantic, fun and passionate. Fast-forward a year later and we are touring in my Chevy Silverado and just getting wasted. By the time we got to LA we were getting a little outta control.”
“When we got back we started writing and it was a lot of sarcastic lyrics about how much fun we were having. In the studio, we were still at it drinking rye whiskey and having the time of our lives. Sure, we were singing about how much of a problem it had all become, but we were having a blast doing it.”
The album is rounded out by the band’s cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” – taking a dreamy turn with Desi’s lead vocal, the sweetness of “Elija’s Song” written for their friend’s newborn, the deep grooves of “Misunderstanding” and “Savanna” and finishes up with the twang-y etherealness of “Stay,” “Your Mind is Gone” and “Open Your Eyes.”
Neither Desi nor Cody overdoes it with their interchanging lead vocals – they are always soft and subtle. Perfectly transporting the listener into the duo’s recent turbulent past and ensuring that the trouble stays at a distance. It’s the aural equivalent of watching the world go by in a side view mirror. “Images are closer than they appear” and even look pretty cool as they whiz by at that angle.
“I wouldn’t change any of it. At least I know I have someone who has my back, someone who is on my side,” Desi says. “Many band members go it alone. When we get home and lay in our bed cuddling with our dogs we get to talk about it and work it out together. ‘Wow, that was crazy.’”
Yes, This Is Killing Us is a beautiful record and a fun, wild ride — a contender for “best of 2018.” Can’t wait to hear what Desi and Cody do next.