During the past three winters, Andrew McLeod (SunnSetter) has written an album: 2016’s It Was Winter and I Wrote Some Songs…, 2017’s Attic Son, and now Worrybody, which came out in February. Last year, I chatted with McLeod for the piece we ran to premiere Attic Son and I asked him about his fascination with winter and his response was simple, “I work a lot in the summer so I’ll take a couple of months off and then write in the winter.”
McLeod characterized his previous albums as unfinished sketches but Worrybody is different, it’s the first album that he considers to be finished. Even though it’s a walloping 18 tracks, about the same length as his other records, Worrybody does feel less expansive and more focused. Each track, whether it is ambient, hushed folk, or rougher rock, winds up satisfyingly and the album as a whole has a clear beginning, the tender “The Skin I Live In (Introduction),” and end, a glitchy exhale simply entitled “End.”
On Worrybody, McLeod is unrelenting in his exploration of self and unafraid to share his thoughts even when he’s in the lowest valleys of his emotional ups and downs. About the album, he writes that it’s “a personal recollection of whats its like struggling with bi-polar disorder, self-isolating behaviour, genuine personal connections (or the lack there-of) and pervasive and constant suicidal thoughts/ dis-associative episodes.” While the album is somber, there is hope here too.
Where there are setbacks there are also affirmations and celebrations. “A List of Plans (They Will Fall Through)” is an anxious track that’s weighed down by self-doubt but melts into “It’s Not That Bad,” a song that is ultimately heartening, especially as McLeod sings, “don’t you know that everyone feels the same way that you do?” It’s both that relief and annoyance you feel when you worry about going out and then you do and you have fun and you wonder why you got yourself into such a state.
Another standout emotional journey is that tracked in the songs “I Actually Don’t Wanna Die,” “Dear Twin,” and “It Was Very Beautiful Today (Flower).” On the first of this trio of tracks, McLeod revolts against his suicidal thoughts and declares, “I actually don’t wanna die.” “Dear Twin” is an all instrumental track that starts off breezy but works up to a torrential downpour of pounding din; it’s the good days and the bad days. And then on the next track “It Was Very Beautiful Today (Flower),” McLeod is wide-eyed, taking in the beauty of the world and is at peace for the time being. It’s one of the many hypnotically intimate moments on the record and you feel as if you are standing beside him looking at a garden or the sunset.
Top Tracks: “It Was Very Beautiful Outside Today (Flower)” ;”I Actually Don’t Wanna Die”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)