REMEMBER WHEN you used to wake up writhing in the middle of the night, legs wrought with an excruciating and unrelenting tenseness? Your parents might have casually referred to it as "growing pains," though in the dim light of dawn, you knew it to be a more painful experience than those words expressed.
Well, musically speaking, that doesn't happen to Point Juncture, WA much anymore. After eight years as a dedicated four-piece with three solid full-lengths, an EP, and countless tours to aid in their steady growth, the band has finally reached a point where they just get it. And surely their latest release, Handsome Orders, stands as proof of that fact.
"I feel like we had more confidence and more instinct with this record. We'd think, 'This sounds good,' and be done with it. There was very little second guessing," says Amanda Spring, drummer/vocalist and resident virtuoso of the group.
"It's true," adds Victor Nash, pianist/vocalist. "We've figured out who and what can drive a song. We used to reinvent the wheel every time we wrote a song, but now we've figured out a couple of tricks that work for us as a band."
Upon first listen, one can certainly detect a litheness to Handsome Orders, especially when taking into account the darker shades and considerable heft of 2005's Mama Auto Boss and somewhat excessive experimentation on 2008's Heart to Elk.
For instance, the song "New Drags" carries on in hazy surf-rock fashion, wave spit just brushing your face as you listen, while "Snakey Says" is playful, with background vocals fading interchangeably, boasting a dynamic song structure. Not to mention the latter references a detailed inside joke the band shares from an interesting camping experience while on tour—its mention brings immediate laughs to the table.
"As we've gotten to know each other more, the songs have become more insular. They reflect our life as a band," says Wilson Vediner, guitarist. When seated in a booth with Point Juncture, WA, it's remarkable to listen to them all go in a round and finish each other's sentences. Their group dynamic directly reflects their aural compatibility, and you can tell they genuinely like each other, and the music reflects that.
Also, it should be mentioned that Point Juncture, WA has long been heralded for their DIY methods regarding album art production. Handsome Orders, however, displays a beautifully intricate cover drawn by Ben Larkin Richards and letter-pressed by Aaron Miller—both are friends and supporters. Gone are the days of makeshift assembly lines with gas-masked band members holding stencils steady and aiming spray-paint cans, brain cells and patience depleting rapidly.
Their DIY ethics have not completely vanished, they have just been reinterpreted on a larger scale. For instance, this time around, the band built their own studio in an old two-car garage adjacent to Nash and Spring's home, using 2,000 square feet of raw pine boards, hand-finished in the backyard. Handsome Orders is the first album released from the space, as well as the first where all band members were learned enough to take part in the engineering process (Skyler Norwood, bassist/drummer and local engineer, had manned the helm in the past). Its sonic ease could be attributed to the relief of completing such a laborious project—and one that will only enhance the band's musical growth.
Or maybe, it's best stated by Norwood, "We just want to play what feels good, and if it feels good live and gets our blood pumping, it works."