What do you do when you’ve been writing dozens of songs for your pivotal sophomore album, but — near and dear as those tracks are — you’re afraid they’re something you’ve done before?
For Vinyl Theatre, it led them to “The Island,” an undertow of interlocking guitar and vocal hooks and one of the standout songs on their forthcoming album Origami, due May 12 on Fueled By Ramen. Billboard is excited to premiere “The Island,” along with three other new tracks from the Milwaukee-based quartet.
“‘The Island’ was our escape from any criticism or judgment,” vocalist-guitarist Keegan Calmes tells Billboard. “We made something that sounded completely different from the rest of the songs we’d been writing… [It’s] about laying your burdens down and taking a leap of faith when the trail runs cold.”
The young band dipped its toes in the water with 2014’s Electrogram, its first release for Fueled By Ramen. They got some traction behind the single “Breaking Up My Bones,” but set out with greater goals for album number two. A real game-changer could vault them towards the success of label mates like Twenty One Pilots and Panic! at the Disco; for Origami, they parsed 40 new songs down to a glorious nine to state their case.
“A good summation of the record’s lyrical inspiration is just human existence — questioning everything about our time here and being wary of any absolutes,” Calmes says. “New Machines” questions the limits of human knowledge and finds comfort in the boundless expanse.”
“30 Seconds” — Origami’s propulsive lead single — finds its groove on a comparatively philosophical tip. “It holds to the idea that there is a beginning and an end but they are less significant than the story between.”
Find “New Machines” and “30 Seconds” above, followed by “My Fault” below. Downloads of all four are instantly available to those who pre-order the album beginning tomorrow (Feb. 10). Think of it as a sampler EP, introducing the guitar- and synth-driven dreamworld Vinyl Theatre has prepped for its second go-around.