One of the most difficult things for bands to nail down is a voice that complements the music. There are countless bands that have great singers and great songs, but the two just don’t match, and it ends up relegating them to the realm of “nice but forgettable.” One of the best things about San Francisco’s The Y Axes is how they’ve managed to perfect the formula. Singer Alexi Rose Belchere has just the right voice to complement the group’s angular indie-pop, fusing sunny sweet harmonies and pure tone with dark lyrics.
The Joy Formidable is the most obvious point of comparison, but where that band goes for arena-rock exuberance, The Y Axes sound like a band for listening to alone in your room, lights low, staring out the window and hoping it’s all going to be okay. The new album Umbra (due out November 26, but available for pre-order now) is full of these addictive anthems, and new single “Monsters,” streaming exclusively at The A.V. Club, might be the best of the lot. Soaring guitars and multiple harmonies anchor a song whose uplifting vibe belies the subject of becoming alienated from yourself. Belchere explains the song’s meaning thusly:
‘Monsters’ is about losing your sense of self over time. Everything from your ability to move and speak to how you are able to process fear and love has slowly atrophied. In this state, you can either slip out of existence or take the opportunity to rewrite the rules of who you are. In the song, I imagine a group of people holed up in a hideout, trying to avoid an insidious ‘monster.’ I imagine that during this hibernation, the group evolves into a pack, and over time the monsters they fear start to look and sound no different from them.