I don’t know about you, but my early 20s were characterized by confusion, fear of chaos, and a feverish desire to find objective, concrete answers to life’s biggest questions. A fool I was. I’m not altogether sure what exactly has changed, but my outlook now is primarily based upon patience, and the opinion that the meaning of life is to live it. My uncertainty has evaporated into something grounded in the understanding that truth is subjective, that man is not god, and that we live and roam for a time doing whatever we choose, and that can be a gift or a curse depending upon your perspective. With their debut album Life is Long Parts 1 & 2, Darwin and the Finches tackle something like this. I recognize myself in a lot of this album and find a reflection of my own experiences of coming to grips with adulthood, unknowing, and the understanding that I was at the start of a very long process. A process that only time itself would complete for me.
Darwin and the Finches certainly don’t skimp in any way, shape, or form on this initial foray into recorded work. The record is a densely layered, lovingly intimate, diligent body of work. Each song is a love letter to the indie bands, which rose to prominence in the early 2000s — Death Cab For Cutie, Neutral Milk Hotel, Songs:Ohia, Modest Mouse, and The Moldy Peaches all make their presence known. Understated horns weave in and out across the span of the album, a tasteful touch in this sort of sonic territory.
This impressive feat of a breakout record was a DIY effort from beginning to end, with lead singer Elias Pasquerillo and a few good friends collaborating and learning recording techniques, mixing, and mastering within the confines of Pasquerillo’s small Portland apartment.
“We recorded all the drums in my kitchen on Fredricks Street right by Denny’s. Every time we would record drums, the cops would get called on us. Even though it was like, before 7 o’clock [pm], we would always be writing and recording, and then we’d hear the doorbell every single time. They were cool about it, you know, because it wasn’t that loud.”
The process of writing these songs began back in 2015 when Pasquerillo first began to hit a stride in learning to write songs start-to-finish. The album represents a triumph of perseverance. Five years in the making, this record has progressed from seed to tree despite setbacks and hardships.
“It seemed like every finish line was really just another lap that we found out we had to take… Every time we thought we were done, there was another thing to do. It was a lot of fun, though.”
Throughout writing and recording, Elias moved half a dozen times, had all his gear stolen out of his car, and didn’t manage to get together all the necessary resources to record the album until late 2018.
Between its two parts, Life Is Long accomplishes the mission of zooming out to a birds-eye view of the human experience through revelations of emotion, snapshots of daily minutiae, things said, things unsaid, and of course — patience, patience, patience.