With the late 2019 release of their debut full length, Don’t Hit Me Up, Boston’s Raavi & the Houseplants have established themselves as a solidly rising star on the local math-rockey indie scene.
“Major Tool,” released on Valentine’s Day, feels like an exciting continuation of their sound: Madden Klass’s drumming, as it was on the full-length, remains punchy and expansive, and Josef Kiefer’s intricate guitar work matches the creative, sprawling energy. (Raavi Sita’s spacey, minimalist guitar solo around 1:30 is nothing less than ethereal.)
God, I really hate the trope of angry anti–Valentine’s Day music. Why must we so cavalierly shrug off intimacy? “Major Tool,” though, seems more like an anti–anti–Valentine’s tune: It recognizes the safety and comfort of interpersonal connection while still acknowledging the nuances of romance that come with trauma. (At least that’s what I’m reading from it.)
“oh am i too broken for you,” Sita asks on the track; “I’m not quite ready to scare you off but / if you knew I’m just going soft / you’d understand that it’s not on you I just got a couple things I’m still working through.”
The song is a compromise, a productive recognition, a comforting bout of communication. It forgoes the irate energy of much of anti-romantic music and instead opts for a message of mutual recognition, one that balances solidarity with deep connection.
“Major Tool” is a queering of the Valentine’s Day Music canon in the best way: Not only does it obfuscate the oft-too-sharp boundaries between friendship and romance—it is also radically intersectional, exploring the ways affection can persist and grow through (and, more importantly, despite) trauma.