In some ways, what Nate Grace went through last year, and what I'm having to deal with now, are quite similar. This album resonates strongly with me, and it will for many other people as well. Crawling Up the Stairs is a record which proclaims that sooner or later, we all have to make decisions about our lives; not that things will get any better or any worse if we do so, just that it has to be done. The frontman of Pure X has had a difficult year, and that's sugar-coating it. Let's see: serious leg injury, no insurance, no money to pay for surgery which he would need if he was ever going to walk again. He dragged himself through everything, realising that he couldn't run from his problems; that he had to face them head-on no matter how terrifying they looked. In response, he and his band (completed by Jesse Jenkins and Austin Youngblood) wrote an album which is heavy with emotional turmoil and precious little light. "Burn me until this body's dust / Just make me feel something, baby - I don't give a fuck" he almost begs on 'Someone Else', sounding like more than just his voice is about to crack.

Just a glimpse at the track titles - 'I Fear What I Feel', 'Things in My Head', 'I Come From Nowhere' - offers insight into Grace's mindset on the record, but the universality of his lyrics transforms the album from a personal document into something to which people can relate and learn from. 'Thousand Year Old Child' addresses the fear of growing older over a melody which would, in most contexts, be described as uplifting, but when Jesse Jenkins pours his personal experience into the song, it becomes almost unsettling. "There is no reason to think about time / Sometimes I feel like a thousand year old child: he admits, questioning what he's doing with his life and sounding like he's in no way ready to let go of the worry that's holding him down. It seems like he can just about bring himself to face that worry. Here, we have the band admitting that their personal futures look impossibly bleak, and despite the constant melodicism of the music they create, their second album is extremely uneasy listening, so much so that there has to be a moment of reflection for the band - as well as the listener - toward the end of the album with the atmospheric instrumental 'Rain at Dawn'.

However, as Leonard Cohen once sang, "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in" - it may seem unlikely, with Grace almost ready to give up on 'I Come From Nowhere', resigning himself to his fate with a defeated, "I just don't care anymore," but there is light somewhere on Crawling Up the Stairs, and it's saved for the closing track: 'All of the Future (All of the Past)' is the spark of optimism that saves the album from becoming a complete downer. Grace emerged from his personal hell with a new perspective on life, and there's no doubt that his bandmates did too. "Let yourself be loved, you've fallen long enough... I can see the light, just got to stay alive" he proclaims on the closer, realising that he has to have something to hold on to, so may as well look for the positives where he can. His self-confidence was almost shattered during the making of this album, but Pure X as a whole have given everything they could possibly give whilst creating a record that will surely take them new places. It's harrowing and downright depressing listening at times, but the best art often comes from the worst of situations; an album like this needed to exist, and I'm glad it does.