Meernaa band leader Carly Bond describes her songwriting process as “psychedelic meditation,” an experience so immersive that when she gets into the flow, she forgets to eat. On the band’s debut, 2019’s Heart Hunger, playful guitar solos and kaleidoscopic production lent the music that boundless exploratory feeling. Their follow-up, So Far So Good, is a more soulful, introspective collection of folk songs whose fingerpicked guitar, gauzy synth lines, and swooping string arrangements diffuse like smoke.
If meditation has a goal, it’s to be able to witness your emotions passing by rather than letting them overwhelm or control you. Bond’s lyrics adopt a similar perspective. They are full of yearning, but they maintain an observational stance. Bond rarely editorializes her feelings, instead collaging abstract imagery to gesture at them, so listening feels less like reading a dream journal than watching an experimental film interpretation of your own dreams. (I’m reminded of avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren and Alexandr Hackenschmied’s short film Meshes of the Afternoon, which silently tells and retells a dream sequence, changing small details with each repetition.)
In her songwriting, Bond tends to pull from a recurring pool of phrases—“dreams,” “tenderness,” “the heart”—and pastes them together without much focus on narrative linearity. Rather than feeling disorienting or incomplete, the disparate images build into surprisingly poignant wholes. On “As Many Birds Flying,” Bond drifts through a chugging guitar riff and bandmate Rob Shelton’s ribbons of synth as she recalls water flowing, a sky turning lavender, and a lover’s voice echoing through a canyon. The scenes pass without much explanation, but together they establish a sense of outsized wonder at love she once experienced but can no longer access.
On “Mirror Heart,” Bond describes various aspects of someone’s face without using sight: Each feature is a stand-in for an emotion it evokes, from the tenderness in their eyes to the wildness in their smile. When love and longing are so intense and amorphous that language falls short, the writing on So Far So Good creates a constellation of tiny moments that speak to those grand feelings. Bond catches the glimmer in someone’s eye or watches them turn over a stone in their hands, then asks us to connect the dots with our own associations.
Her voice, too, conveys a wordless longing. On opener “On My Line,” she sings about anxiously awaiting a phone call, but decides to bury her feelings. A grinding guitar riff flares and percussionist Andrew Maguire’s drums simmer as Bond escalates from a cautious falsetto to a wail, using restraint and patience to relay a sense of barely contained frustration. “Bhuta Kala” is a plea to someone else to linger in a state of mutual reverie. Here, her singing meshes so seamlessly with the starry guitar and strings that it might feel like the sounds are emerging from the same instrument.
Throughout the album, Bond yearns for love but is rarely able to grasp it. There is no resolution, just a fog of memories and elliptical dream logic. But despite the intensity of the emotion, the symphonic, elegant arrangements make her words feel accessible and inviting. On So Far So Good, she provides a scaffolding of impressions upon which we are invited to impart our own narratives, making this music ours, too.
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