Each song on Bayonne’s Drastic Measures is orchestral in texture, unfolding in countless layers and kaleidoscopic tones. With great intensity of detail, the Austin-based artist otherwise known as Roger Sellers deepens that sonic complexity by weaving in elegantly warped samples of the field recordings he’s gathered for over a decade. But in its powerful melodies and pristine arrangements, Drastic Measures ultimately bears a pure pop lucidity even in its most grandiose moments.
Driven by the dynamic percussion and luminous piano work signature to Bayonne’s sound, Drastic Measures takes its title from a track that embodies the album’s central theme: the instability inherent in an artist’s life, and the often-futile attempt to attain balance. With its unrelenting urgency and heavy-hearted lyrics (“Common sense should tell me that the ones I’ve sinned against say goodbye”), “Drastic Measures” looks at the disorienting effects of constant touring. “After a while you kind of start to lose touch with home and your friends and your family,” says Sellers. “You come back and feel like you’ve missed out on a lot, like you’re stepping into a whole different life.” And as the album offers up many a transcendent melody and anthemic chorus, Drastic Measures also reflects the volatility of moods within that way of life. “There can be so many highs and lows in such a small amount of time,” says Sellers. “I remember my parents flying to one of my shows in Brooklyn and feeling incredibly grateful that I got to share it with them. Just weeks before that I was touring through Germany, feeling so isolated and lost. The ups and downs can be crazy if you don’t actively try to manage them.”
The crystalline production of Drastic Measures marks a departure from Primitives, Bayonne’s entirely self-produced and more loosely structured full-length debut. In shaping the immaculately composed album, Sellers partly drew inspiration from the sublime melodicism of 1960s symphonic pop. “I spent a lot more time thinking about the little subtleties than I ever had before, and putting more thought into the meaning behind the songs and the best way to get that across,” he says. “It felt like a natural progression for me—I wanted to make the music more accessible to people, including myself.” Mixed by Beatriz Artola (Fleet Foxes, A$AP Rocky, Adele) and mastered by Josh Bonati (Mac DeMarco, !!!, Zola Jesus)—but fully produced and mostly tracked by Sellers himself—Drastic Measures also finds the multi-instrumentalist enlisting several close musician friends to instill the songs with a more kinetic energy.
As Drastic Measures muses on such matters as fractured relationships and the erosion of mental health, Bayonne builds a dizzying tension between the album’s bright and dark elements. On “Uncertainly Deranged,” skittering beats and shining piano tones clash with lyrics echoing the anxiety of self-doubt. One of the most delicate and simply adorned tracks on the album, “Same” spins a gentle reverie out of a moment of wistful longing. And on “I Know,” bouncy rhythms and whistled melodies make a brilliant backdrop to Bayonne’s meditation on overwhelming remorse.