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Albums Of The Week: The Natvral | Summer Of No Light

Pains Of Being Pure At Heart singer-guitarist Kip Berman channels ancient disasters and contemporary pandemics into earthy, earnest and richly satisfying roots-rock.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “On The Natvral’s second album Summer of No Light — a spirited, beautifully observed collection of rough and ready songcraft — former Pains Of Being Pure At Heart frontperson Kip Berman was eyeing the past while dealing with an inescapable present. In 2020, in the early stages of lockdown, Berman began writing songs that reflected on a world that had seemingly ended — while contending with the needs of his young family seeking solace in the familiar.

“After putting my children to bed, I spent many a late night in the basement with my guitar and let my mind wander to the places where I could no longer go,” he says. “Initially, a lot of the songs were about getting as far away from the reality of my moment as possible.” He drew parallels with another tumultuous summer. “The record’s title, Summer Of No Light, is taken from the climate crisis of 1816,” he says.

Often referred to as The Year Without A Summer, that year a massive volcanic eruption in Indonesia darkened much of the world’s sky. The resulting ash brought dramatic global cooling and widespread famine, hitting Western Europe especially hard. While he initially sought escape from the isolation in which he found himself, soon the solace of home and family life began to seep its way into the music “The routines of domesticity were often unwelcome, and always exhausting — but probably mentally helpful. I was isolated, but not alone.”

Despite the many graveyard romps that populate the record, it’s the moments that celebrate home that gives this album its heart. Summer of No Light is an album that’s born of a precise moment, yet revels in anachronism. Collapsing time to make a little bit of sense of this one, Berman feels artistically rejuvenated, drawing on histories large and small to breathe new life and perspective on his own. “It was a time that is now almost unspeakable — not because the tragedy was too profound or in any way trivial — but because we were all there.”


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