The album name "RezErected" isn't an exaggeration for the Codependents.
The record, out this Friday, is their first proper full-length since the friends from the Flathead area formed a rap group in 2011.
They feel they've matured musically and personally in the last three years, the span since they recorded their original debut album and lost it in a house fire.
"It's nice not having that 'practice' album out," said Keenan Nerby, one of the group's MCs. "I'm glad it's not out."
In 2013, Shadow Devereaux, one of the group's rappers and its producer, had just driven out of Dixon, where his grandmother lives and where the group had their studio set up.
"By the time I got to Missoula from my house, which is like 35 minutes, my mom called me and was like, 'Hey, your Grandma's house is burning down,' " he said recently.
The electrical fire caused a total loss: Devereaux's studio equipment and their recordings were gone.
They'd recently finished their first out-of-state tour, and thought their tracks were finally coming together in a cohesive way.
"Losing that was devastating to us," said Justin Evans, also an MC. "We felt like we just on our little incline and it's just gone."
But as Nerby said, they're glad they've had more time to work on a proper debut and refine their approach and techniques.
"Time is always a good thing," Devereaux said. Evans said they used to mimic their influences too heavily, and in this group's case there were numerous influences.
Evans and Nerby started out emulating rappers with gymnastic, emotionally forceful flows that require vigilant listening and a dictionary: People like Aesop Rock and the late Eyedea. Devereaux became a fan, too, augmenting his early influences, harder-edged lyricists like Tupac and Eminem.
The extra time to develop since the fire is clear from the first tracks on "RezErected," which they recorded at a new studio space at Devereaux's.
"Snow" has a back-and-forth, string-accented beat from producer MaulSkull, a former Bozeman resident. Nerby is up first, with fast-paced, staccato lines like "third-eye ocular dominance/is a delicate accomplishment/I relish in the constant bliss/but jealous ones want me out the trip."
"Hight" is one of several tracks with swan-song verses by Roman Firestone, an original collaborator who left the group. It's backed by drifting ambient keys and a speed-up-slow-down AKAI drum machine beat. Devereaux, a self-taught producer, was never a vinyl junkie. Since he first started out, he has built his beats with keyboards, drum machines and software. The chilly, dark beats he produces reflect some producer he's inspired by, such as Tech N9ne's beat-maker, Seven, plus El-P of Run the Jewels, and Blue Sky Black Death. "Turned Off" warms up the sound with flourishes of guitar, both acoustic and electric.
While Nerby is more of the type to carefully enunciate each syllable, Evans is more volatile, sounding hoarse and exasperated. ("Now you probably didn't know the me I used to be a time ago/thankfully a little dose was all that story wrote.") Devereaux is calmer, mixing braggadocio and aspirations.
The final track "Oceanic" dips further into ambient cloudiness and loops of guitar, accented by a voice singing the phrase "this is not over."
One unusual element in the Codependents sound has been Riley Roberts, a singer with an often wavering voice situated in the upper octaves. A close friend of the group, he joined before their first EP.
On "Rezurrected," his voice often occupies the space where other producers would use a sample, lending some tracks an electronic vibe. It's a different role from earlier recordings, when he sometimes used an emo wail.
"I just sing the choruses and stuff, but it kind of took me a while to figure out how to develop my voice according to Shadow's instrumentals and what they are saying," Roberts said.
"I feel like through the past several years, listening to Shadow's production, hearing it develop, I've been able to kind of take a step back from just screaming into the microphone and really try to fit in with what he's doing."
The album will be out on Friday via most any online venue you can find: Spotify, iTunes and their Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages. It's also going to be released on the web store for Crushkill Recordings. They've been opening for a steady stream of touring hip-hop acts: Heroes like Cage and Sadistic, and last Sunday, Waka Flocka Flame at the Wilma.
The hard work and connections have paid off: Crushkill is a small label started by Eyedea before his death and run by his mother and a friend.
"In my teenage mind, I would lose my (expletive) over this opportunity," Nerby said.