Closeness celebrates love, in its own dark way, after a matter of the heart big enough for two
Touring behind a six-song, half-hour EP, Closeness is only the opener for a Wednesday show at Sonia. But it’s the band you’ll want to hear.
You may have heard its members already: Orenda Fink is in Azure Ray and the gorgeous O+S; Todd Fink has come through town as leader of the funny-scary electro-rock band The Faint. Closeness is the Finks’ first band together, with the name being no more an accident than the authority of their songs.
They formed the band after Orenda’s emergency heart surgery in November 2015, for an issue she’d been aware of but had let go undiagnosed and untreated. It was a 12-hour procedure, and Todd was there knowing it was far from clear she’d survive. Afterward, she wrote for Talkhouse, “When I first opened my eyes and saw his face – pale, tired and terrified – I cried instantly. I could see in his face the enormity of the weight of losing me. And I didn’t want to be lost.”
She spent months recovering, and not working. “My soul hurt,” she said by phone. “My feelings were hurt by the universe.” She retreated and spent months painting, filling her journal with thoughts and lyrics, knowing one thing she hadn’t done with her life but “had always wanted to” was to form a band with Todd.
“I really went inward, and he was there with me,” Orenda said.
It’s love songs that open the band’s “Personality Therapy”: “Early Black,” which is almost claustrophobically lush with yearning and intensity, for anyone who wants to recover that all-enveloping feeling of when a partner is their everything, followed by the swelling, mellowed sweetness of “More Romantic.”
“It’s about seeing life from a different perspective and having a partner that was so there for me and how beautiful that is,” Orenda said. “It’s about us versus the world, how you can find safety and comfort in one other person.”
The thought is more implicit in the EP’s middle stretch, where the songs look outward at a hostile world (“In the age of slow horror mind control / Ideologue heresy”) but, Orenda said, “you can take solace in your own bubble of love no matter how things are going outside.”
One of those songs is “The End of the Maze”:
The EP ends with another song about love, albeit one Orenda acknowledges is a “very hard” exploration of its limits – the title track, “Personality Therapy,” which was actually written before the Finks’ medical ordeal. It asks both whether “my love is enough” and whether “your love is enough” and what it takes to make love stay. And it ends ambiguously, showing the doubts in even the best circumstances: “Is our love enough?”
But Orenda sees more resolution in the song, which lies in a careful listen to what she sings at the very end of “Personality Therapy” – not words, but a subtle, plaintive but soaring wail “that’s the answer to the question: Is love enough?”
“I think it is,” Orenda said. “I think it’s the only thing that’s worth it.”
Closeness opens for Har Mar Superstar and Sabrina Ellis doing the songs of “Dirty Dancing” in a show called “Heart Bones,” at 7 p.m. Nov. 28 at Sonia, 10 Brookline St., Central Square. Tickets are $15.