Framed by the nightly fireworks that exploded mysteriously throughout New York’s summer 2020 pandemic lockdown, the first straightforward love song in Endearments’ growing catalog tells the story of an MDMA-infused July 4th: Kevin Marksson and his girlfriend on his apartment’s rooftop, taking in the pyrotechnics and quietly reflecting on their budding relationship (outside / when we feel like we’re water / and you want to get close / to the sound of the fireworks). These themes of fresh beginnings are reflected in Endearments’ evolution from personal recording project to full-fledged band.
Words by Jason Lee
Photos by Rita Iovine
EP cover image by Isabel Lojo
In the music video for Endearments’ “Hazy Eyes”—the first single released into the wild ahead of the Brooklyn-based, melodic dreampop trio’s new EP entitled It Can Be Like This—Kevin, Will and Anjali spend much of the clip swaying with eyes half-closed (or are they half-open?) as a collage of colorful kaleidoscopic images of flowers and geometric patterns and buildings wash over their faces, bodies, and instruments as Kevin breathily croons lines like “it feels like I’m falling / it feels like this always with you” like Bryan Ferry elated at being a slave to love minus the studied detachment which quite effectively sets the tone for the EP and its overriding themes…
…so it’s perhaps unsurprising that vocalist/bassist/lyricist Kevin Marksson “poured three years of diaries into the music of Endearments” or that “while the band’s 2021 debut, Father of Wands, chronicled the dissolution of Marksson’s marriage, It Can Be Like This swings the pendulum toward the electricity of new love. ‘It’s about learning how good a relationship can feel after years of believing that love came with a certain built-in difficulty and pain,’ Marksson explains,” quoting from Endearment’s own official press release and even tho’ the album doesn’t officially drop until tomorrow it’s exclusively hearable here one day in advance so here ya go my friend…
…which just goes to show what we’ve long maintained about being unable to comprehend the soul-stirring spiritual powerwash of being blissfully in love at its most intense unless you’ve first had your heart flushed down the toilet a time or ten, I mean, just ask none other than freakin’ Mick Jagger cuz he totally gets how love and hope and sex and dreams go hand-in-glove with having been in tatters and shattered even today at an age when MJ’s more likely to shatter a knee than his heart ammirite not to be agist about it or anything…
…a message put across all the more potently thanks to guitarist Anjali Nair and tub thumper Will Haywood Smith who together festoon the tune with a staccato, sing-songy hook reminiscent of certain songs by the Cure, the ones that seem to imply childlike whimsy is only knowable by once and possibly still depressed blokes with backcombed hair not to mention the swirling latticeworks of chiming guitar lines dotting the song nor the stuttering intro/verse syncopated drum ridden that sounds like an excitedly enamored heart skipping a beat…
…but hey we don’t mean to imply there’s only one song on It Can Be Like This cuz that’d be a ripoff, instead there’s fivecount ’em five highly stimulating songs ranging from the post-punk urgency of “Open Hand” (let me fall like the rain into your open hand) to the ’80s sunglasses-at-night vibes of “Selfish” (under sheets we can escape / the wicked lies and our mistakes) to the cinematic wistfulness of “Existing Conditions” (warm by the fire / we could be in it) to the lighter-waiving epic stadium-sized balladry of “Sober” (I wish I was / sober enough for sincerity) or those are our impressions at least…
…and while we’re at it we oughta maybe mention Endearments’ two 2022 singles too—“Too Late” and “Heartbreaker”—which may’ve lacked the “narrative core” to make it onto the EP but which cemented Marksson’s collaborative approach to songwriting and recording with his current bandmates with producer Abe Seiferth at the helm (Nation of Language, Guerilla Toss) but why take our word on anything when we got Kevin M. speaking on the record re: the record exclusively for Not The Deli Magazine Magazine so read on dear reader…
Produced, mixed, and engineered by Abe Seiferth. Mastered by Joe Lambert.
Additional engineering by Kevin Marksson and Will Haywood Smith.
Written and performed by Kevin Marksson, Anjali Nair, and Will Haywood Smith.
Photography by Isabel Lojo.
On the name “Endearments”:
The name, Endearments, is aspirational: “I wanted the name to convey affection, even though I knew the music would almost certainly be sad.”
On the recording process:
This record was fun to make because we actually demoed all the songs directly to tape first. We mention The Passions’ Thirty Thousand Feet Over China in the press materials because that album was a lodestar for us while we were writing and mixing. There is something really magical about early British post-punk and new wave records from the late-70s, and I wanted to capture some of that feeling with how we demoed the songs.
So I bought an old Tascam 16-track reel-to-reel and we put all the original guitars, vocals, bass, and drum parts down on that. Then I mixed that down out-of-the box with the synths synced to the tape. That’s what Abe Seiferth, our producer, heard first—before we went into his studio and started re-recording parts and adding new ones. Most of the songs still have some of the original tape tracks on them, like the bass guitar on “Hazy Eyes” or the drums on “Selfish”.
On the songwriting process:
This was also the first time we wrote a whole record from start to finish as a trio. Will and Anjali are all over the first Endearments EP, Father of Wands, but that was mostly a solo-record and they were just contributing as friends. Will used to play drums in my last band, Saint Marilyn, and I am in another band, Joyce, with Anjali. After Endearments started playing live in June of 2021, I asked them both to join the lineup full-time.
You can really hear the difference between the songs we were writing when it was just me, and the ones we’ve written together—especially on guitar. All those Cure-like guitar riffs that Anjali writes are, for me, what makes Endearments sound like Endearments. I can’t count how many times in the studio I would say to Abe, “the guitar riff in the chorus is the most important part of this song, it’s everything!”