Sure, The Acorn, Rolf Klausener’s best-known musical project, has been inactive for a while. But since Klausener and company regrouped, it feels both like the act hasn’t changed a bit and completely evolved at the same time.
The music of the Acorn is a masterful example of making simplicity dynamic. Each song is a beautiful little moment, a record of a time and space, and Vieux Loup finds itself in a very serene space. Very subtle washes of synth, careful and intricate percussion, sparse strums of the guitar—it doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up to something cosmic.
First single “Influence” is a record of how The Acorn has evolved. The monstrous bass in the song sounds like nothing else, and will literally rumble your headphones. The beat seems partially inspired by Klausener’s role in Silkken Laumann but retains the Acorn poetry, like “She said she stakes a claim with obstinance.”
But for the most part, the song compositions are simple and effective. “Rapids” may be the best “morning after” song this year, with the barest twinkling of synths and warm guitar. It’s like waking up after a pleasant dream and lyrics like “As you move your head from between the sheets again” suggest it’s an epilogue of sorts, despite being the first song. But there’s a stirring of doubt in the chorus, and doubt will come to define the record.
Closer “Artefacts” is a pleasant way to end, as Klausener sings of trying to avoid “a congregation of distractions knocking at my door.” In “Cumin,” the song’s theme seems to be finding the line at which doing too much for love is a bad thing.
“Dominion” sounds like it’ll be another gentle song thanks to the raw sound of the acoustic guitar (as well as some beautiful backup vocals from Ottawa act Boyhood), but it eventually reaches an unexpected crescendo, showing that not everything has to be peaceful.
At eight songs, the album manages to not feel at all cut short—it’s the perfect length for a dream.
Vieux Loup will be available via Paper Bag Records on May 19.
Top Tracks: “Rapids”; “Influence”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)