By: Eliza Goldstein
The beginning is Roger Waters escorting me to the great gig in the sky, the ending is Animal Collective waving me out of Merriweather Post Pavilion with a resigned, almost perplexed “I guess this is goodbye.” Everything in between is the artistic magic that is Edmondson’s debut LP, Strange Durations.
Strange Durations can easily be compared to bands spanning the last 50 years. The piano and vocal style point to later Pink Floyd, and as writer Kelsa Ross mentioned in her review of Edmonson’s first single “Meanwhile,” it sounds like Sgt. Peppers or Magical Mystery Tour were big influencers on the album.
“Haunt You” is a six and a half minute odyssey that starts out somewhere in Avey Tare’s dreamscape and then seamlessly transitions into an Eleanor Rigby-esque instrumental. Someone should get Brian Eno over here to check these guys out, just for good measure. “Possession” and “Escalation” also have that transportative, Beatles feel. Both are full of ascending and descending piano and layered vocals. “Escalation” also sounds as if it’s got a beautiful horn part, and makes me feel as if I’m wandering down Blue Jay Way, but in the early morning rather than just before dark.
These guys don’t lack for lyrical value either. In “Turnings,” the third song and second single of the album, brothers Jack and Robert Edmondson paint a picture of tired nostalgia. “The last time we drove here was when we were kids/the lights over 95 are dimming.” The simple wording and delivery of these lyrics, paired with a vortex of light percussion, guitar and synth all carried by a sweet and steady piano melody takes me to the backseat of my parents’ car on a highway in the early morning, complete with fog and dewdrops. The line “Everything is turning” is the feeling I get right before falling asleep in a moving vehicle. At the end of the song, I’m lulled out of a memory I didn’t even know I had by a piano phrase reminiscent of Erik Satie.
The coolest part is, I didn’t have to know whether my “memory” was real or not. It was so simple, the emotion behind it was so recognizable that it easily could have been a real memory. Therein lies the beauty of Strange Durations. With each song, Edmondson has found a way to reach into your psyche, find the very real feelings that you associate with very real things in your life, and put those feelings into 10 unique as hell pop songs.
Not every song on the album is an Animal Collective, layered frenzy. “Möbius Strip” is possibly the most stripped down song on the album. The opening lines, “The dishes still need to be done/I end up doing far more than my half,” again are simple, honest, and point to a feeling that pretty much everyone I know can relate to. It is a song about the frustrations of living with someone you love and having to pick up their responsibilities. It’s sunny outside, they’re relaxing and you’re stuck doing the dishes. At the end of the day however, we’re reminded “Every thought of leaving her won’t last,” because doing more than your share of the dishes and going home for the summer doesn’t change the fact that you love this person. Strange Durations is strange but familiar. It feels comfortable, it feels real.
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released May 7, 2017