The cover art for Overcoats' latest record The Fight shows the duo, comprised of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, grasping each others' hands. Their unease is palpable: fists clenched, brows furrowed, frowns pronounced. Even the album's title evokes a sense of violence.
About halfway through my conversation with JJ she described the photograph: "Are we fighting each other? Or are we fighting with one another?"
This tangible anxiety permeates the entire record, though often, the conflict's resolution is what characterizes the conflict itself. Women are at the end of nearly every strike society dishes out. And guess what? These two are justifiably angry and ready to fight back.
Overcoats' sophomore album is full of tension, contrasting anger with catharsis.
"Another storm is rolling in / I'm losing hope again," the two sing on the bridge of "Fire & Fury," an electropop track propelled by pulsing drums and the duo's euphoric harmonies. The storm, as it turns out, takes many shapes.
"When we were writing The Fight, Trump got elected. There was a war on women's bodies. And we were experiencing being totally immersed in the music industry, in and out of recording studios that are completely male dominated," JJ told me. "There was a lot to be angry about."
But for every moment where warranted outrage dominates the album, well–deserved justice also rings clear. Despite the apocalyptic imagery which command "Fire & Fury," each chorus is followed by the two singing "We'll get through it" repeatedly. The line is simultaneously a promise, a mantra, and a battle cry: overcoming trauma is a righteous act as much as it is a hellish one.
The angry lyricism of The Fight sharply contrasts the nostalgic tone of Overcoats' debut record, 2017's YOUNG.
"For our first record, it was like a coming-of-age story, a reflection of how we saw our own parents, society, and the world," JJ explained.
While YOUNG is relatively sparse, with minimal electronic production and folk–inspired melodies, The Fight is significantly denser and more aggressive. The two's pitch–perfect harmonies are ever–present, but drum solos and roaring electric guitars lend a heavier presence to the mix.
As it turns out, the darker songwriting present throughout The Fight influenced the more intense production style.
"What do the songs that we're writing say, and what to do they require sonically, as something to showcase the lyrics in the best way possible?" JJ said. "We always say that the songs and the stories dictate the sonics."
This harsher, indie rock production tracks throughout all 10 songs, but is especially present on lead single "The Fool," and pop punk-influenced "Apathetic Boys." An intense eight–bar drum sequence leads into the chorus of "The Fool," while "Apathetic Boys" is driven by distorted vocals, aggressive synth stabs, and power chords; both are easily imaginable on a Sky Ferreira album.
"Apathetic Boys" serves as one of the more lighthearted jabs on the record, where men who try to flex their music knowledge by namedropping Radiohead are maligned.
"Apathetic boys / can you give me more? / apathetic boys / do you feel anything at all?" the two ask in the chorus.
These moments of brevity allow some of the heavier cuts, like "Leave If You Wanna," to hit even harder. Hana described the song as "fighting in a more self–righteous way, a way where sometimes it feels good to be angry, but maybe it's not the right thing to do."
At one point in the song, the two sing, "You're only as good as the one you blame." It's a sobering reminder to take the high road. Sometimes, the best way to fight back is to not fight at all.
Despite all the anger, violence, and aggression JJ and Hana tackle throughout The Fight, the two want this album to be a healing experience, too. Hana told me that the album has taken on new meanings in light of new global crises.
"The album now means the fight for hope, the fight to have positivity through a situation that feels grim," Hana said.
One way they're hoping to encourage positivity is through a series of Instagram Live shows dubbed 'Friday Night Fights.'
"We're working on on creating acoustic versions of the songs from the album, that we're going to play and release on Friday night," Hana said.
In a world where uncertainty reigns supreme, one constant remains true: fight for what you believe in.