Ain't No Shame in the Heartbreak Game

The Shondes' new album makes heartache sound good

The Shondes in their shameful glory.
The Shondes in their shameful glory.

You guys, I love The Shondes ("shawn-duh," Yiddish for "disgrace" for all y’all goyim out there). Like, serious fanboy, swoony type love.

I totally fawned all over the Brooklyn quartet at this year’s Gay Bi Gay Gay, and to be quite honest, after seeing them on that stage in that lovely east-Austin backyard, I didn’t think I could love a band of radical, anti-Zionist queer Jews any more … until I listened to their just released sophomore effort, My Dear One.

My Dear One is a concept album – the guiding principle being that super-fun and life-altering experience of having someone you trust and love tear your heart out.

Personally, it makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about sitting down to write an entire album about the worst heartbreak of my life. It wouldn’t be so eloquent, and would probably contain such tracks as “Who’s Going to Walk Your Dog Now, Asshole?” and “I Totally Just Cried So Hard I Barfed (And There’s No One Here to Help Clean It Up)”.

That is why I am not in a band, and why The Shondes are so good at what they do. From start to finish, My Dear One delivers on the promise of breaking you down to build you up. “Every day is like this day/Nobody ever wants to stay” singer and bassist Louisa Solomon proclaims on “Get Out,” over Elijah Oberman’s haunting violin.

“Get out, get out before the ugliness gets in you!”

Oh, honey. I’ve been there.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. There is a hell of a lot of hope in this album, despite being created in the wake of the band’s guitar player quitting while on tour. The meta-anthem "Make it Beautiful" leaves you feeling strong, triumphant and dedicated to those relationships that get you through the toughest times. The sing-along chant, “I write songs to save my life, give me four more bars to make it right,” will be stuck in your head for days.

My Dear One is 40 minutes of distilled hope and heartbreak. This is an album about survival, something we queers know about. Put it on the next time you find yourself in the throes of sorrow. Or, you know, when you just want to fucking rock & roll.

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