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Reuben and the Dark’s un | love opens a breathtakingly honest window into one of the most dramatic times in frontman Reuben Bullock’s life. The spirited Canadian folk-rock outfit’s third album tells Reuben’s story of endings and hope for the future. un | love is a bare, cathartic exploration of life’s crossroads: a heartrending yet free-spirited collection that explores the fateful depths that await us there.
“This record is an undoing,” says Bullock. “An unraveling of the things that were closest to me.” un | love is about that absence, a void that Reuben fills with captivating poetry and vivid sound. On the eleven soul-searching songs of un | love, Reuben and his band take the listener along on an impassioned escapade of the heart – the result is Reuben and the Dark’s most affective and intimate work to date.
Written over the winter of 2019 between the opposite climes of Montréal, Québec, and Sayulita, Mexico, un | love came together swiftly on the heels of the band’s 2018 album, Arms of a Dream. In comparison to the hard-wrought and polished songs of Arms of a Dream, the new album shows a drastic turn in Reuben’s ease as a writer and freedom as a recording artist. Penned largely in the studio, un | love bares the raw emotion in Reuben’s words, articulated with the spacious, intuitive sonics of his band. The result of this collaboration is Reuben and the Dark’s most tense yet harmonious album to date, with a dynamic palette that suggests the levity of a passing storm.
This is perhaps no more clearly evident than on the first single, “faultline,” where an infectious chorus bursts through the layers of tension with rays of clarity. Over an anthemic melody of chiming guitar and rolling highwayscapes, Reuben offers a foretelling admission: “I’m not looking for trouble, but trouble is on it’s way. It’s a faultline on this map of mine.”
“It feels like a reflective song,” says Reuben. “Driving on the highway late at night. Looking back over your life. The plans you made. And the way those plans can change. Driving while your passenger sleeps beside you. It’s about trust and self-destruction. Feeling power and a lack of control.”
Produced by Reuben and the Dark with Marcus Paquin (The National, Timber Timbre, Local Natives) and Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene), un | love mines this raw, unfettered emotion from within Bullock. By letting his expectations go and inviting spontaneity in, so fell away the emotional constraints. For that, Reuben’s voice on un | love is at once unbridled and fallible. Through his dense imagery, perhaps for the first time truly, shines a clear light, shot straight from Reuben’s weighted soul – wide open, blown away, untangling the pain.
“I want to die by the river, see the sun rise up like a fire through the trees.”