Originally Published in Stylus Magazine, Volume 28, Issue 4
Standing in the thirtieth row of a partially filled MTS Centre, dressed to the nines (or at least the sixes), on a narcotic propelled rocket hurtling my mind through some forgotten corridor of the cosmos is when I was first introduced to Susto. It was as though my experience was tethered to an otherworldly elastic that, at the moment of its choice, pulled me back down to earth and into my mortal self while the chorus of Susto’s Waves roared through the arena. The lights danced in unison as though they themselves were drowning waves. “It comes in waves” sang front man Justin Osborne, reminding a select few of every time they ever felt the ‘waves’ come on at the outset of what will surely be a good trip.
Waves is the third track on Susto’s newest album & I’m Fine Today, released in early 2017 by Dine Alone Records. As a whole the album is mind bendingly passionate and profound. The instrumental pieces carry a deceptively cheery tone while the lyrics are unabashedly authentic. Take, for example, the playful piano intro in the song “Hard Drugs” which includes such lines as “I don’t care who’s askin’ I’ll tell ‘em the truth/ I’ve had a long time struggle with substance abuse…I’m just glad that I found you/ and sorry that I couldn’t keep you around.” The contrast of musical vibes and lyrics, often times teetering into the realm of psychedelic, is what creates the sound that can best be described as simply being Susto.
There is no shortage of other phenomenal songs on this album, ‘Mystery Man,’ ‘Cosmic Cowboy,’ ‘Wasted Mind’, ‘Diamonds Icaro’, and ‘Jah Werx’ to name a few, but none are as heart wrenching as “Gay In the South.” As the title undoubtedly implies, the songs tells of the struggles faced by gay individuals living in the southern United States who were close to the songwriter. The first chorus paints a telling picture of the turmoil many are forced to deal with, saying “They promised us/ You were going straight to hell when you die/ I don’t even think it’s a real place.” The contrast of up-tempo music paired with deep, often times thought provoking lyrics is what will lead Susto to success in the future.
Listening to & I’m Fine Today is good for the mind, good for the soul. In a hectic, unpredictable world of unknown horizons, Susto is a sturdy reminder that, in some crevices in the world, there is still good to be found. If more songs were written with this sort of exemplary honesty and depth, surely the world could be a better place. Until then, Susto will lie in wait for the cosmic surfers who, in spite of increasingly hazy global climate, feel fine today.