The Ritualists Release Debut Album, Painted People

The Ritualists Photo by Sam Keeler

The Ritualists just released their debut LP Painted People on August 2 via Out of Line Music. Starting their run in the NYC Underground music community, the group is making their debut with this full-length, 10-track album.

Painted People album cover
Photo courtesy of Out of Line Music

The opening track, “Rattles,” has a calm vibe which is an interesting start to the album. Instead of jumping right into things with a hard rock song, they take the time to ease into the album and build to a stand-out chorus that brings the sound up a bit compared to the rest of the song.

The second track and debut single, “Ice Flower,” sounds like something that would be on the soundtrack of the Netflix hit “Stranger Things.” In fact, a lot of the group’s new songs use nostalgic 80s beats. “Ice Flower” specifically seems more like a soulful, David Bowie sound which lead singer Christian Dryden credits as one of their many influences. The music video for the song has people fighting in it, which fits with the song’s sort of angst-y rock tune as well.

“Worthiest One” starts off with an 80s electronic, “Tetris” video-game beat before moving into fuller instrumentals. With this song, and throughout most of the record, Dryden keeps up the soulful vocals. His words almost physically depict a longing for something. For what depends on the listener’s depiction. With this song, it seems to be a longing for the one worthy of his love.

Another track that stands out is “She’s the Sun.” While this also has an 80s vibe to it sound-wise, something about it reminds me of early 90s grunge rock— more specifically, Nirvana. I could also see this song being on the soundtrack of a 90s cult film, such as “Jawbreaker.” It just has that edgy, sinister vibe to it that reflects the movie’s underlying meaning.

“Starry Night” is a bit nostalgic and describes conflicting emotions. The point of view has the person missing their love but, at the same time, they acknowledge that the love wasn’t made easy thanks to their lover. So it’s almost a song of closure, acknowledging the unsaid feelings while moving on from the situation.

The Ritualists
The Ritualists
Photo by Sam Keeler

As for what inspired the title song “I’m with the Painted People,” Dryden says, “I wrote that one about my experiences on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Growing up and feeling a kinship with these larger than life characters, Bowie, Simon Le Bon, Bryan Ferry and Marc Bolan, was a blessing and a bit of a curse. In the one sense, it was magical and transformative to imagine these people as your sort of musical soul mates. Sadly though, it also seemed to engender feelings of loneliness, as there didn’t appear to be anyone else who shared this vision. And that is how I felt, until I started to frequent the venues and clubs of the Lower East Side.”

There, Dryden was able to find his fellow “painted people”— the ones that could see his creative vision. You feel that desperation and longing to find them in this song as he meaningfully chants, “I’m with the painted people!” And now, every time they perform the song in NYC, he dedicates the song to the people there.

“Over the Lie” is very instrumental as a lot of the songs are. However, this song appears to be lighter in sound and I could see it being in an 80s movie soundtrack such as “The Breakfast Club.” Dryden sings, “But it’s too late to cry, over the lie,” which I could see being played following when the cast realizes they have nothing in common other than being in detention together, and that some of their outside personas may not be who they really are as people. This song could illustrate their emotions during that scene.

The song “Darling” is more of a lovesick song, I would say. Dryden admits that a lot of the songs on this album were inspired by heartbreak. This is evident as Dryden belts out the lyrics almost painfully in this track. This is the go-to song if you personally feel confused about your own love life or feel lost within it. The song seems to depict that perfectly with the lyrics “But where do we go from here? When the future is so unclear. And what would I become without you?”

The Ritualists
Photo by Sam Keeler

Many of the songs take on “a grander concept than simply ‘I’m upset because someone hurt me’” in regards to being about love and heartbreak, as Dryden describes. This is evident on songs like “True Dictator” where he seems to be helping someone with love but, at the same time, may not think they’re taking the best route and is acknowledging that.

Some acoustic guitar with back-up instrumentals start the song “Sunset” which makes it different right off the bat. As the song keeps going, we again eventually hit the electronic sound and electric instruments. However, that acoustic at the beginning gives it a calmer vibe, similar to the beginning of the album and tying the conclusion of this album in a neat little bow.

Interested in listening to the album? You can check out Painted People on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. Learn more about The Ritualists and find more streaming platforms on their website here.