Lovely and deliberate, “Tuck the Darkness In” turns cathartic before its five minutes are done. The key to the transformation is the song’s determined pace, which does not change from beginning to end. As minimal and serene as the arrangement feels at the outset, this is a toe-tapper from the get-go—the music truly seems to enter the body as soon as the drum and guitar begin their joint, muted cadence five seconds in. Close your eyes and bob your head and torso to the rhythm here. You’ll see.
And then we get this interruption, this tension and suspension that glides into the song at around the two-minute mark, which becomes a bridge (a suspension bridge?) rife with the sense of something about to happen but not yet happening. Each lyrical line here begins with the preposition “before” (“Before the hours took over,” et al), which reinforces a sense of incompleteness and mystery; we’re never given the countervailing thought directly (what? what happened before the hours took over?) but the weight and intent of the whole song gives it to us indirectly. The song is a striking and poetic meditation on mortality. Live and pay attention, now, is the message. It’s all we ever have.
The bridge seamlessly re-engages the heart of the song at around 2:50, the drumbeat now insistent, backing harmonies added. The sound expands, with electricity and ghostliness; the melody, anthemic all along, brings us home. This is thoughtful, powerful stuff.
Bowerbirds is a Raleigh-based duo that has had (and maybe will yet have) more members at other times. The band was previously featured on Fingertips in 2007. “Tuck the Darkness In” is the first song available from the forthcoming album The Clearing, which will be here in March on the Dead Oceans label. MP3 via the record company.