Based on title alone, it’s clear that Washington’s Gems are a band unafraid to explore the darker side of life. Itself a reference to Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, ‘Kill The One You Love’ is dark, confessional, and at times, otherworldly. Much like the novel from which it takes its name, it’s bound together by narrative strands of love, death and fatalism.
Whether this is the death of a relationship, the death of love itself, or the loss of one’s self following these events is never made clear, and throughout, the overarching theme of death is abundantly apparent. Despite this, there’s an ever-present sense of hope that offsets the darkness; tracks such as ‘Scars’ and ‘Tangled Memories’ providing a metaphorical light at the end of a bleak yet beautiful tunnel.
Though downbeat, ‘Kill The One You Love’ never feels depressing. Instead, the pervading feeling of hope prevents the record’s preoccupation with mortality from becoming cloying in its delivery, offering listeners an anchor point, should they become lost in the heady cocktail of distorted electronics. Much like Woman’s Hour’s ‘Conversations’ debut last year, Gems’ first work is a record of understated beauty, beauty buried beneath images of hurt and longing, of love and lust. ‘Kill The One You Love’ is a record built around hope, and around finding the optimism in fatalism, and the inevitable freedom that comes with such a discovery. As such, it feels much less a debut, and far more an aphorism from the mouths of a band wise beyond their years.