For brothers Keith and Michael Jeffery, home holds a certain kind of magic. The coastal Australian city where they grew up is more than the cradle of their youth – it was the soil for their dreams and the birthplace of their success. Australia was where they forged their breakout hit, “Trojans,” which earned them a gold record and took Atlas Genius from studio project to critically acclaimed international act.
After a few months turned into two years on the road in support of their debut album, When It Was Now – after exploring distant towns in distant countries, pouring their souls out in theaters all over the world – home called. But back in Australia, the blank canvas the brothers faced reflected back two very different people from the ones who had crafted When It Was Now. In the time they had been away, they had created a new normal – built a new community, endured heartbreak, and seen the world.
“All of a sudden we’re back in the same place but we’re totally different people. We just couldn’t stay if we wanted to challenge ourselves and take the next step.”
Keith and Michael headed to Los Angeles to record new material in the city that had sparked undeniable creative energy for so many artists before them. Home, for now, would be the bright Angeleno expanse. Juxtaposed against the darkness of the unknown, this duality quickly became the through line that would tie together Atlas Genius’ second album, Inanimate Objects.
The album is a foray into darker emotional realms of songwriter and vocalist, Keith Jeffery, as he explores relationships and experiences, past and present – a journey that maintains the catchiness and sense of melody that the band is known for while exploring the gamut of musical possibility. “It didn’t make sense for me musically to write a bunch of happy, cheery pop songs. We were constantly being drawn to darker guitar and synths sounds, as well as some slower rhythms.”
This new exploration afforded the brothers the courage to experiment recklessly with sounds, techniques and genres creating a newfound dynamism. What emerged was something brand new – an amalgamation of ambient, driving pop, punctuated by kinetic electronic beats, guitar and grimy synths.
The album’s underlying sonic current is wonderfully cohesive, but the diversity of influences and breadth of experimentation are everywhere. On first single “Molecules,” their reconciliations with their own destinies are translated from swirling chaos and angst to pure danceability. “It’s a song about equality and our place in the universe. It’s also about the relative scale of things. Do we really have as big of a say in our destiny as we like to think we do? On a universal level, I would say that perhaps we don’t.”
This existential crisis also gave birth to songs like the muscular “Stockholm,” written by Keith on a trip to Sweden. “I had gone partly to write and partly to assess the state of a long distance relationship I was in. I really felt like I was drowning emotionally and needed to let myself breathe.” The musical result was perhaps one of the first and clearest departures from their first record. The result is a song infused with a pulsating rhythm section that reflects the ardor of the human spirit in fight.
On the other end of the spectrum is the mesmerizing earworm, “Balladino,” which harnesses frustrated energy in darker, contemplative verses which release into soaring, cathartic choruses. Keith explains: “Sometimes there are these long, unrelenting periods of darkness that we go through in life. At times, it feels endless, yet it eventually passes. “Balladino” is about holding out hope.”
“For me,” says Keith, “each song is a tiny little intimate moment that explodes.” And that’s what Inanimate Objects is – a collection of moments that speaks to the heart of the human experience. It’s a search for hope, embrace of change, and, finding one’s home.