reviewed by Michael Thomas
As we get older, we increasingly look back on the actions of our younger days. Youth is wasted on the young, as the cliché goes. But the Painters seem to suggest that looking back isn’t the worst thing in the world.
The seven songs—written by Alex Bourque and featuring the additional musical talents of Raff McMahan, Josh Boguski and Alex Lavoie ( Telstar Drugs, Family Band, and Un Blonde)—all feature a good amount of warmth and fairly simple themes to grasp onto. Odes to love, nostalgia, death. At its base levels, it bears some resemblance to the work of Kalle Mattson.
But Bourque et al. aren’t content with delivering straight folk-pop tunes. It’s the tones of experimental weirdness that lurk around the edges of lyrics like “I was younger then” in the opener, “Changes.”
Speaking of “Changes,” the opener is a great intro in the 70s-sounding, slightly psychedelic space the Painter inhabit. Bourque chooses his lyrics fairly sparingly, and as a result undoubtedly leaves plenty of hooks. “Changes” then spends a large portion of its runtime on an instrumental jam, with several guitars intertwining.
“On the Ceiling” features a similar setup, driving home the line “Everyone is dying” several times before dipping into some fuzzy guitar. “Sam,” meanwhile, seems to be a longing for better days, though there’s no real bitterness in it. The lack of bitterness is probably why this is such a nice listen—it invites you into a warm embrace rather than compels you to cry.
Perhaps the pinnacle of the album’s balance of experimental rhythms and honest lyrics comes in “Somewhere.” The lyrics are simple and sweet—”Keep an eye out, look for me” is one of the hooks—and between verses, the band plunges into percussion. It’s a wonderful breath of fresh air.
Whether your problems are like specks of dust or an impenetrable wall, the Painters will make your present feel like things will be okay.
Top Track: “Somewhere”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)