A. Savage

Thawing Dawn

Dull Tools

Oct 16, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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The most enjoyable albums are often the ones that charm unexpectedly. A solid solo record from Parquet Courts frontman Andrew Savage comes as no surprise, it's the sequence of its miscellany that pleasantly catches you off guard. Each song hopscotches to an adjacent frame of analog structure with rearranged furniture, just down the hall from the tenor of his main act. The decorative surfaces are made of organ, brass, and pedal steel guitar. All convey country and blues and dress unabashed songwriting with classic taste.

Savage wrote these songs over time, without the unifying purpose of building a cohesive album. Yet they were so destined to be on Thawing Dawn, individual recordings that didn't factor in on other projects yet incidentally belong with one another...and how.  

On his own here, Savage's vocal stance finds solidarity and settles into the contours of a record crafted with the contributions of a dream team of alt aesthetics including members of Woods, Ultimate Painting, PC Worship, EZTV, and Psychic TV. His voice could wobble effectively through past Parquet Courts all nighters like someone shouting back at the person who just punched him but Savage clocks in more upright and audible here. Alert and composed, he spins lyrical wit with observation owed to his newfound attitude of embracing the present, using metaphor to indicate a soundness, such as the refrain "I've got a full ring of keys again."

Musically, electric guitar chords have the warmth of a space heater. Horns make it cozier on standout "What Do I Do," which then spills into a beautiful mess with a stumbling piano loop. Savage begins heading west on album opener "Buffalo Calf Road Woman," where he gives an alternative oral American history and stays that course on "Phantom Limbo." On both, the pedal steel guitar lights up the horizon like a shooting star. Then far afield, Interpol-esque organs beautifully enclose and haunt "Wild Wild Horses" and "Untitled."

The length of Parquet Courts albums could begin to weigh on your shoulders like your backpack at the end of a 10 mile hike, but Thawing Dawn is succinct and without excess. Somehow there's often a certain low-profile feel to solo albums from frontmen of notable bands, but this one should be touted. A record to champion both focus and randomness. (www.parquetcourts.wordpress.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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