Two years after the release of their debut effort, Savages, Indy-based Bonesetters are back with their second full-length album, Figure it Out. They've added a new bassist and drummer; only lead singer-songwriter Dan Snodgrass and lead guitarist Sam Shafer remain from the original lineup. They've also dropped the word "The" from their name, a change which may matter and may not. But, this is a different band than "The Bonesetters" who came here two years ago from Muncie, and Figure it Out demonstrates that this band is worth watching closely.
Savages established Bonesetters as a richly instrumented alt-folk act with a serious songwriting talent in Snodgrass. With Figure it Out, the complex songwriting is still there but the album moves away from that sort of rock-orchestra métier; the tracks feel more like individual songs rather than suites of some larger musical statement.
Bonesetters still seem to be exorcising some serious demons — lost loves, youthful indiscretions, sins committed by former selves — and looking back into the past for redemption and answers. Lyrically, there's a lot to chew on, as always. Religious symbolism is rife — devils, saviors and saints make appearances — even in song titles (see: "Day of the Dead" and "Saint Led Astray"). Certain songs take on an element of prayer; of getting things off one's chest in order to ask forgiveness, as in "Greed": "We bought lightning / We sold it cheap / We owe our souls to the devil / For our greed."
In terms of sound, it's hard to draw a specific bead on Figure it Out, as Bonesetters resist easy categorization. Drew Mallot, on bass, and Cody Davis, on drums, seem to have continued and improved upon the band's penchant for hard-driving beats, and horns and strings on songs like "Golden Youth" and "Saint Led Astray" lend a sort of epicness. Opening track "House Fires" contains a distinctly math-y guitar riff, but that's about as math-y as this album gets. "Day of the Dead" has early '60s pop undertones. "Sundowners" is back to pure '90s rock – complete with mid-song breakdown. The album reaches what I consider its high point on "Saint Led Astray."
Bonesetters with Shiloh and Amo Joy Friday, Jan. 31, White Rabbit Cabaret, 1119 E. Prospect St., 9 p.m., $5, 21+
[Music] DJs + Dancing