Pixel Revolt LP
It’s telling that the first impression many people got of US troubadour John Vanderslice was through his recent tour with former labelmates Death Cab For Cutie. It would seem that the band have not only been sharing stages and labels – there is much of the intricately weaved melodrama of DCFC seeping through the songs of Mr Vanderslice.
Picking up Ben Gibbards eye for lyrical detail, this release weaves intricate tales of heartbreak and housework. Mixing the real with the imagined, Vanderslice creates intoxicating soundscapes of obtuse lyrical content with lush, yet defiantly lo-fi, homespun electronica and campfire folk.
‘Letter To The East Coast’ is a downbeat opener and would seem a distant cousin of Sparklehorses majestic ‘Its A Wonderful Life’ – setting a mournful tone for the rest of the tracks to follow. Deploying gravel-laced vocals to a backbeat of skittery lo-fi drum loops, Vanderslice also deploys thrift-store guitars with synths and sweeping cello to devastating effect – at once drawing you in and unsettling you. There’s a distinct late-night feel to the whole album, from the understated opening passage through to mid-album highlights ‘New Zealand Pines’ and ‘Continuation’.
While maybe a little dark to receive the OC treatment afforded to the aforementioned Death Cab, (the material here might be more suited to the darkness of Six Feet Under or maybe The Sopranos) songs this affecting and this intimate deserve to be heard by a far wider audience than the lo-fi production style might normally attract.
A classy record in many respects and one that points towards Vanderslice joining the long line of great American songsmiths (Elliott Smith, Mark Everett, Sparklehorse, Iron, and Wine) embedded into the American psyche.
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