Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Parker Longbough - Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium in Lo-Fi

Parker Longbough - Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium in Lo-Fi 

This songwriting opus from Parker Longbough, Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium in Lo-Fi, is the second studio effort from Anchorage, Alaska born singer/songwriter/musician Matthew Witthoeft and represents a long-delayed follow up to the project’s first release Commander Comatose. Longbough doesn’t have any sort of fixed lineup, but Witthoeft’s songwriting has an unity of sound and intent that’s further refined on this release than we ever heard on the debut. His unique confluence of electronic pop textures with alt country flavor isn’t like anything else you’ve heard before. The band performance is stirringly rugged while still maintaining a high degree of musical value – that isn’t an easy tightrope to traverse for even the most fleet footed and seasoned of musical units. Matthew Witthoeft and his collaborators manage the feat with grit and artistry. Bridges to Nowehere/Deliirum in Lo-Fi is a weighty musical and written work that succeeds on multiple levels.
There’s a steady simmer to the way that the opener “Hall Pass” builds that makes it ideal for its starting slot. There’s a singsong quality to some of Wiithoeft’s vocal melodies, but it never gets tiresome because he fills the songwriting with such exceptional writing and the phrasing is always quite in tune with the demands of his words. There’s a strong urgency to the arrangement, particularly from the drumming and singing, but the guitar work makes everything richer as well. “Super Shitty” undergoes a patient transformation from its airy, keyboard driven opening passages into a much more raucous guitar-slanted attack. There’s some particularly effective keyboard playing near the song’s end in a way you rarely hear such instruments used. “The Bell Jar” is one of the album’s unquestionable highlights and Witthoeft deserves plaudits for the imagination he shows in capturing a disordered mental state through musical invention alone. The lyrics maintain a terrifying clarity in the face of this and Witthoeft brings listeners a vocal treated with some post production effects, but nonetheless practically leering at times with wild-eyed emotion. This, overall, is probably one of his finest singing performances on this release. 
“Pressure Receptors” invokes the spirit of alternative rock guitar and post punk at its most raucous, but never belabors its credentials and keeps things memorably simple. “Saint Jude” has some surprising pop song strengths, especially a good vocal melody, and the gentle swing of the tune is peppered just right but some expertly laid out guitar playing. Melody is an underrated part of his presentation because he doesn’t always approach it the way more commercially minded performers might and it hits the mark nonetheless. “April 23rd, 1991” has some of the same alternative guitar rock feel of the earlier “Pleasure Receptors”, but the velocity is looser here and there’s more of an emphasis on melody. The album’s penultimate tune and last lyrically driven song “Smiling Second Row” could have served as the final curtain for this album. The vulnerability, specificity, and desperation wafting through this relaxed and deliciously ramshackle tune sums up the album as a whole quite nicely. Bridges to Nowhere/Delirium in Lo-Fi hits in ways you might have given up on in modern music. Consider your faith restored.  

Montey Wright

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