I got this album from iTunes based on a one song preview and a rating over 9 on Pitchfork. I never do that - it was a classic impulse buy. I which all my impulses were this good!
Obvious Bicycle opens the album in a wonderfully understated way. A quiet song, Obvious Bicycle has qualities of a gospel song that I can’t quite put my finger on. Regardless, this is an odd song to open an album with. It sounds far more like a closing track. It is wonderful and airy with lots of nice harmonies and just the right amount of electronics underneath.
Unbelievers is where the album kicks into high gear. This romp is a classic pop song with w driving rhythm line and light, peppy vocals. (I’m using the word “peppy” in tribute to my grandmother.). Wonderful organ work also gives it an oddly gospel feel. Given the topic, unbelievers in the religious sense, this works particularly well.
Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?
For some reasons this hits home for me.
Step takes things down a level again with the feel of a nice, light pop ballad. Harpsichord work and bells set a nice feeling for this song. The vocals sound like they’re coming through a vocoder, but it works nicely. This is a high point on an album that is one giant high point.
Wisdsom’s a gift, but you’ll trade it for youth.
Back up tempo with Diane Young and back to the 50s and a kind of beach sound. Like the first tow the sound is subtle, perfectly mixed with modern sounds right up to the Wipe Out guitar lick. The Beach Boys might not record this one, but they’ll sure like it. Another high point and wonderful, nearly perfect song. Diane Young transitions seamlessly into Die Young in a wonderful way. I’m not as fond of this song as the previous three, but it works where it is and bring things down in a good way.
Taking things downtempo further is Hannah Hunt. While Step is a happy ballad, Hannah Hunt is slower and more contemplative.
Everlasting Arms could come from the great Paul Simon Graceland album. Nice African pop baseline and drums relying heavily on the kick drum and the tom. But this is not from Graceland. The main theme gives way to sweet string arrangements to remind us where we are.