Vocalist Erik Garlington spoke at length about the meaning behind — and the importance of — the new record in a press release.
The Great American Novel is a concept album about how Black genius, specifically my own, goes ignored, is relentlessly contested or just gets completely snuffed out before it can flourish. This record is a concept album that’s meant to read like a book. Every song is a chapter following the protagonist through their 20s. Imagine a queer, Black Holden Caulfield-type coming up in the 2010s.
At the end of the day, what I wanted to do with this record is take Proper. in a direction that would surprise people on first listen, but end up making complete sense on the second or third listen. I think a lot of bands tend to go more pop, but I wanted to make something both challenging and undeniably catchy.
It all goes back to Black genius and how it’s ingested by the predominantly cishet, white male crowd. If they’re going to be a voyeur to the Black experience, I wanted to strip away all the cheeky song titles, lyrical inside jokes and optimistic singalongs. I want them to hear this record and learn about our identity crises, our aimlessness, how many friends and family we know that are dead or in jail by 25. How, at 8 we were told we were gifted but by 11 we were told we’re dangerous.
Listen to The Great American Novel below.