Each track on LUV IN THE RUINS is fragmented and refracted, stretched out for maximum impact. The ambitious 70-minute sophomore album from CARE — the deconstructed pop project of Queens-via-Grand Rapids musician Justin Majetich — is being presented in two parts, a move that makes sense both thematically (the first part deals with the sloppy aftermath of love; the second picks up the pieces) and practically, given CARE’s propensity for dense, sprawling tracks that are brimming with discursive fixations and wild tonal shifts. Four of the five tracks on Part One of the album rest at or extend past the 7-minute mark, and each one justifies its length. Majetich fills that vast space with textures that are as wide-ranging and volatile as the emotions he’s attempting to work through, and the way he processes the end of a relationship feels brazen and painful.
The songs on the first half contain all the ugly, obsessive strains of thought that occur during the part of the end when you say all the things you’ll regret later: the too-cold judgements and hot-headed feelings and selfish internal meditations. Love so quickly turns to loneliness: “I was emanated by you, now I’m estranged by myself,” he sings on one song. “Maybe it’s holy, maybe it’s nothing,” he reflects later on, trying to place a descriptor on the meaning of their relationship in the grand scheme of life. “Maybe I’m horny, maybe it’s good.” The opening track sees Majetich insisting “I’m not in love,” a defense mechanism for a heart that feels ripped apart with conflicting notions of self-loathing and reflection. “Impossible, your expectations, don’t you know?” he sings of his inevitable failings at one point.
The mood begins to shift on “Netcong,” which acts as a bridge between the two parts. “Is there no liberating power in all of the violence that love provides?” he asks as he begins to collect the remnants of his ego and shattered self-esteem. “I know it’s hard to resurrect the arrogance we shared before/But I’d trade mine to know that I’m alright with you.” The narrative progression that ebbs and flows throughout the first four tracks comes to a head at the end of the song, a glorious two-and-a-half minutes of throbbing, tension-releasing exultance. “You’re free,” he declares, both to the former love he’s been holding onto and to himself, a great release.
Listen to the first part of LUV IN THE RUINS below.