An ambitious concept record about overcoming depression, Intimatitudes is the first full length release from Bomethius, the lo-fi baroque pop alias of Jonathan Hodges, a Dallas-based composer and multi-instrumentalist.
A portmanteau of “intimate” and “attitudes,” the record melds Hodges’ indisputable chops and impressive musicality with a flair for wit to chronicle the internal turmoil of an earnest youth’s coming of age. The vignettes comprising its 13 tracks narrate an adolescent’s retreat from childhood hopes and convictions, followed by his ensuing journey — at turns pilgrimage and jihad — through the incoherence of contemplative life.
Recalling Brian Wilson’s “Our Prayer,” the record opens with “Empty Promises,” a wordless invocation of a cappella harmonies. Pleasant yet empty, the chords capture the bittersweet solace of youthful assurance — placeholders for the dulcet deceits well-meaning adults feed children.
A relentless spate of rage follows. Spurred by the anger, doubt, and violence that attend dashed dreams, Bomethius’ anti-hero adopts a panoply of musical styles to carry his increasingly transgressive complaints. Track by track, Intimatitudes’ first side traces his transition from sensitive soul to unstable victim (“HURTis”), insolent romantic (“IN-LAWS”), clever cynic (“Crapé Diem”), and beyond until he’s tied himself in knots.
A confessional ballad that doubles as an angry lullaby, “HURTis” belies the soft touches and undulating melody of a nocturne to evoke an inexpressible fury before the wailing violin and restless piano salvos of “Offensive” mutate into arrant contempt for respectability, family, and faith in the following tracks.
Having lost the thread, the wayfarer explores self-destruction and resignation in “The Kiwi Tree,” which employs deft musical parody to sketch the tortuous internal dialogue that attends early acts of rebellion. Further buried beneath layers of coping behaviors, his hold on identity eventually dissolves into the paranoid dissonance of “Look in the Mirror,” a jarring jumble of artfully disconnected layers and voices that sounds like a Brainticket rendition of an Andrew Bird song.
A cinematic paean to mortality and commitment, “Merried” doffs the sarcasm of earlier tracks to genuflect before the fear and trembling of a life lived amid pretensions and attempts. Foregoing the premature resolution of popular romance, his steps instead lead him to countenance, with poise and maturity this time, the radical isolation and indeterminacy at the heart of human experience — the slip and flux of selfhood, love, and purpose that affect everyone.
In “Merried,” understated vocals complement tight phrasing and solid imagery before plaintive guitar and keys shepherd a departed soul into the ether where tender flourishes peter out into awe and dread. Only as the youth learns to accept ignorance and incompleteness can he find the power to emerge from the pall and articulate a genuine hope in the coda, “Hope Springs Internal.”
While it considers familiar subject matter, Intimatitudes showcases Hodges’ formidable talents to great effect. The result is a spry meditation on the sorrows of growing up amid dogma and expectation with energy and zeal to spare — and a clear forerunner of greater things as this young talent continues to grow.