Tom Freeman, the Brooklyn-based British artist and musician known as Covey—has had a weird year. He did a Tour To Nobody, playing shows in rural locations across the American northeast for, well, nobody. He recorded the audio and video, turning the audio into a record, and using the video to launch a series of TikTok videos.
The latter started to find its audience, but it wasn’t until Freeman started posting videos about his upcoming album Class Of Cardinal Sin that fans truly began to respond. Suddenly, the videos were lighting up––this intro video alone has over 18.8M views. Only a few weeks later, Covey had amassed over 1 million followers on the platform, each tuning in to learn about (and swap theories concerning) the increasingly intricate semi-fictional universe Freeman is building through the record.
Today Covey shares the debut single from Class Of Cardinal Sin, “Cut On The Crease.” It opens the record with a humming vein of neon synth before Freeman’s guitar stirs, building and then giving way to marching snare and bass that explode in a trumpet-laden climax.
“Benjamin and Gabe’s stories were the first two in the TikTok series so they laid the foundation and Suzie’s story wrapped it all up whilst finally providing an explanation for all the deaths, so it felt natural that these were the characters we chose to bring to life in the music video.” says Tom Freeman. “Plus these characters were some fan favoUrites. I’m excited for fans to see the stories told in this totally different medium and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out, the personalities definitely come across in the video how I intended them to and how fans have come to know them. Through all the lore, fan theories, cosplay and fan art, the character identities have only gotten more and more vivid, so much so that they began to transcend their small toy bodies even before this video.”
The cover of Class Of Cardinal Sin features a diorama depicting what, at first glance, appears to be a simple class graduation photo, complete with a blackboard with white lettering at the front. Upon inspection though, the classmates are in disrepair. Some are missing limbs; others are casting satanist spells; and most have a human body beneath the head of a creature. Still, they’re dressed and arranged like students, grotesque and miserable.
Freeman created the scene from top to bottom: he ordered the figurines, Frankensteined them to make new ones, hand-painted them all, and arranged them into the class photo. Each figurine is a character with a lengthy backstory, and most collide with the other characters in the photo.
“High school was such a shitty time for me and I always saw it as aiding so many parts of what went wrong for me as an adult, problems I have to this day,” says Freeman. “Class of Cardinal Sin is the place you are when you’re in high school, and you graduate from all of those things into adulthood, but because of all the troubles that you experienced, you graduate to have all of these problems. ‘Congratulations, you got your degree in depression and anxiety.’ I thought it was a fun concept.”
Freeman chose the name Covey after the street on which he grew up in England. There, dealing with a fractured family life, Freeman found comfort in a cassette of Enema of the State and miniature painting of WarCraft figurines. “I came from a broken home,” he says. “Me painting those miniatures and doing those hobbies was definitely a huge escape for me.”
The home, the class photo, the songs: these are all part of a network of synapses that comprise Class Of Cardinal Sin, refracted through Freeman’s acerbic, wrenchingly sharp storytelling. This storytelling is backed by major-key melodies realised on acoustic and electric guitars, bass and warbling keys, percussion that shifts from gentle to titanic.
Class Of Cardinal Sin is that rare, comforting object that smashes the depressing-but-delightful button in the brain that trauma-rock seems always to be pawing at. Manned entirely by Freeman, Covey courses through brash, bright indie rock, riotous folk-punk, giddy pop-punk, and serene Midwestern emo. It’s a gnarled, endearing, acute patchwork, recalling the best bits of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Mountain Goats, Death Cab For Cutie, AJJ, Elliott Smith, and Blink-182. Upon relocating to the US and landing in Boston for school in 2010, Covey was eventually conceived and managed to connect to listeners through Freeman’s own brand of folk-rock which drew inspiration from artists like Neutral Milk Hotel, The Smiths, and Nick Drake. Since then, Covey has gone on to release 2 full-length albums which have received praise from publications such as Paste, The Wild Honey Pie, Allston Pudding, All Things Go, PopMatters, and The 405, which noted Covey as “one of the more intriguing indie folk-rock projects of the past few years.” Covey has shared the bill with nationally touring artists such as Hozier, Briston Maroney, Summer Salt, and Vagabon.
Check out the Cover Art and Tracklisting below.
1. Cut On The Crease
3. Why Am I Alive?
4. Four Dollar Sandwich
5. Sam Jam
6. Point Mutation
7. Crooked Spine
8. Local Anesthesia
9. Sound Of A Gun
10. Marzipan Pills
Pre-Orders for ‘Class Of Cardinal Sin’ are available via Covey’s Online Store.