Rarely can a band truly capture the essence of the human experience, but Bombadil, the quirky quartet from Durham, does just that. Since 2005, Bombadil has made music that runs the gamut on emotionality, the anxieties of young love, the joy of friendship and the crippling sadness of death. Through eclectic folk music, Bombadil shares life lessons and experiences that break down the typical barriers between a musician and a listener, making its music feel more like an enriching conversation than a one-way listening experience.
Metrics of Affection displays these sentiments to a tee. Each song has a personality and sense of self, something that can be chalked up to the variety of songwriters in the band and their knack for crafting instantly relatable lyrics. Daniel Michalak's upbeat, bombastic anthems like "Angeline" perfectly counteract Stuart Robinson's gripping piano ballads, while Bryan Rahija's quirky blend of stripped-down folk sits comfortably between the two.
But the joy of Bombadil lies in its momentum, both throughout its members' careers and each of its albums. Never before would one have imagined a pseudo rap/spoken word verse like that found on "Isn't It Funny," a track that looks to seek solace in sadness while pulling out witty, self-referential lyrics to ease the emotional tension. Bombadil is quick to punch you in the gut with an intensely emotional song or lyric and immediately follow it up with a whimsical musical adventure like the simplistic "When We Are Both Cats."
Bombadil has etched out a musical niche that's all its own; it's an incomparable act in every sense. No other group can provide such a vivid representation of life's most difficult moments, yet couch them in a way that feels comforting and refreshing. "What Does It Mean" is a heartfelt take on love gone wrong that is too familiar to turn away from. But the album's closer, "Thank You," feels like a true summation of Bombadil's most powerful parts. It's a moving piece that chronicles the importance of self-worth and the necessary acknowledgement of those that care for you. From friends and family to religion and death, Bombadil isn't afraid to say what's on its mind, and its members want you to feel that same comfort. Thankfully, albums like Metrics of Affection make that comfort easy to find.