The Superweaks | photo by Jess Flynn | courtesy of the artist

It’s been tough year for Philadelphia hard-rock outfit The Superweaks. Bassist Corey Bernard, the brother of vocalist/guitarist Evan Bernard and dear friend to the rest of the band passed away last May at the age of 22. Despite this, the group continued on writing their LP Better Heavens released via Lame-O Records, which is dedicated to Corey and finally dropped on November 4th. The boys of the band did an early electronic release of the LP on October 30th, what would have been Corey’s 23rd birthday. The album can be purchased physically and digitally through Lame-O Records.

The twelve-track record delivers big time: alluring riffs and captivating lyrics persist throughout the album. These familiar aspects of each song draw listeners in, but what makes us stay is the candid way that the band incorporates discussions of depression, loss and attempted escapes from reality into each track. (UPDATE: The band says, via Twitter, “.@TheKeyXPN wrote a lovely article about our new album ‘Better Heavens.’ To clarify though, Corey passed after the album was completed.” They added, “.@TheKeyXPN it is lovely that you get that sentiment from those lyrics. It’s eerie how the meaning of songs can change to fit experiences.”)

The record opens with the introspective track “Paralyzed” that acts as a feeble attempt to motivate both the band and listeners to “Get off your ass / Just do what you enjoy” in the wake of tragedy set to heavily distorted guitar that dominates the background. The LP continues on to “Run Away,” a track expressing the need to breakaway from everything that is holding you down in life. The boys released a video that depicts the struggle of a teenaged girl trying to do just that, in a much more literal way, in which she fights with her dad and runs away from home. The video premiered on the same day as the record release, and you can watch it below.

Listening across the rest of the record, standout track “Glowing” is carried by the steady flow of guitar- and percussion-heavy arrangements that have remained a constant thus far in the album. This song serves as one of the more overt references to Corey, with its lyrics like “I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going but you’ll be happier now that you’re glowing.” The Superweaks manage to break up the lull potentially cast by such similar instrumental arrangements with “Oh God (We’re All So Miserable Now).” On that track, lo-fi atmospheric vocals paired with equally dreamy productions periodically scattered in the background evoke feelings in listeners rather than thoughts that are influenced by lyrics. Better Heavens concludes with the six-minute long “Junkie’s Gone to Heaven.” This is a perfect culmination of all of the grief, confusion and attempts at healing that are thrown into this record.

Words can only do so much to illustrate the powerful emotions that drive an album like this. The Superweaks don’t have any scheduled shows in Philly at the moment, but the band is touring the U.S. until late November, and are joining fellow Philadelphia-bred punks Modern Baseball on their European tour in early 2017. Make sure you keep an eye on the WXPN Concert Calendar for potential updates, and check out Better Heavens along with the video for “Run Away” below.