You know those couples that break up because they “have no future together” and hang out all the time “platonically” even though everyone knows that they’re still totally in love and just pretending to be cool with it? That’s the Blood Brothers.
Just over a year after that sanguineous fraternity officially announced it was breaking up, its members are still playing musical chairs in at least four active projects, the most recent of which is Past Lives, featuring ex-Bloods Jordan Blilie, Morgan Henderson and Mark Gajadhar, plus early member Devin Welch, also of Shoplifting. And where side projects Head Wound City, Neon Blonde and Jaguar Love each dragged the Blood Brothers house sound in intriguing new directions, Past Lives’ debut EP, Strange Symmetry, sounds like the work of a band yearning to get back together.
You gotta take it slow and deliberate when you’re moving toward friendship with an ex-lover. In that spirit, the best parts of Strange Symmetry take baby steps to change the frame of reference from “another Blood Brothers-related project” to “this awesome band called Past Lives.” It’s all good on opener “Beyond Gone," a mid-paced march through a jungle of creepy marimba and tom drums.
As soon as Gajadhar hits his snare on the title track, though, all the tentative progress collapses, and the patented Blood Brothers dancepunk machine rumbles back into action. That ain’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s too soon, gents. “Strange Symmetry,” “Skull Lender” and “Chrome Life” are the sound of an enervated Blood Brothers, banking on old tricks and lacking the energy to kick Past Lives into the now.
The sparkly keyboards and tribal thump of “Reverse the Curse” offer another glimpse into a post-Blood Brothers future for Past Lives, but the band isn’t quite ready to follow its lead. There’s sad irony in the lines “Give me more of what I’ve come to expect/ I’ve heard it before so I might as well hear it again” and “Give me 1-2-3 more years to try to forget everything.” It’s as if the members are admitting that they’re caught up in their own past lives.