The Boston sextet known as Bent Knee isn’t exactly the first band that comes to mind when thinking about Aristocrazia Webzine, and yet here they are on our pages with You Know What They Mean, their fifth studio album, the second released by InsideOutMusic.
A few months ago year I had the chance to take another peek at the world of independent experimental rock thanks to Bars Of Gold, but here we’re talking about something else. If you have never heard of Bent Knee, for now it will suffice to say that the band was founded in the late ’00s by two musicians from the Berklee College of Music: Ben Levin (guitars and vocals) and Courtney Swain (vocals and keyboards); the monicker comes from the pronunciation of their names, Ben(t) and (Court)Knee. Soon, the band grew bigger until it became a sextet, exploring pretty much any kind of genre over the following years.
Here we get to their latest effort, arriving quite unexpectedly after the leg injury that had hit drummer Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth during a live show in San Francisco, and the terrifying van accident which involved the whole band at the end of 2018. You Know What They Mean comes across great with the very colorful artwork by Riki Nitabaru, a look at the unpredictable content of the album.
After the brief intro “Lansing”, the six musicians throw at us the badass riffing of “Bone Rage”, on which the band experiments with rhythms and vocals; this song is also accompanied by a crazy video, some sort of tribute to Japanese sci-fi with the colors from the booklet. If, at this point, you think you have understood everything about Bent Knee, you’re damn wrong. The fifty-odd minutes of this album actually represent an utter explosion of borderless creativity, looking as much at pop as at electronic music, at stoner as at classic prog. The video for “Hold Me In” is yet another window on the kaleidoscopic universe of the sextet, a collection of sequences seemingly coming out David Lynch’s mind.
There really is something for every taste, of course reinterpreted in the Bent Knee way, through the approach that brought the band to be one of the cornerstones of the independent rock scene of the ’10s. The structure of each song is at the same time unpredictable and right, as we can see for example in “Catch Light”. Above all, aside from the absolute musical prowess of the six musicians, at this point perfectly united in this creative organism, you will notice the usual, unbelievable, vocals by Courtney Swain. You Know What They Mean was an unexpected experimental music gem in a 2019 to be remembered, recommended also if this is not exactly your favorite style.