- LP - Pastel Green
RIYL: Sarah Records, Even As We Speak, The Field Mice, Blue Boy, The Clientele, early Belle & Sebastian
It’s ok to play out of time.
Music toys with time. Or, maybe songs reflect back that time is always toying with us. The world of a song takes hold of us like an eternity to be lost in, with its repetitions and variations, but ultimately, as with everything else, it has a start and then ends. And there’s no place to lose time like San Francisco, where there are no seasons and all the seasons occur within one day; where the fog takes the space where your plans might have been; where there’s insane wealth all around and everyone you know and love is hanging on at the periphery and making art on any given Tuesday night. About Glenn Donaldson’s new record, The Town That Cursed Your Name, he says, “I realized as I was piecing it together that it’s a song cycle about trying to live while also feeling called to make music”. It’s a double life when it works and a deeper doubleness to mirror the Gemini nature of songs themselves. The Town That Cursed Your Name contemplates this problem with wryness, generosity, and the micro- and macroscopic realness Donaldson is known and loved for.
Whereas the 2022 collection Summer at Land’s End was a softer, gauzier world, The Town That Cursed Your Name is heavier, with fuzzed lines running through. ‘Leave It All Behind’ starts out with an amorphous whine but quickly launches into something both supremely melodic and buzzing at the edges. ‘Here Comes the Lunar Hand’ is an impressionist geometry that seems to capture the album’s themes without telling you how. Lyrically, Donaldson embraces the earnestness of his heroes Paul Westerberg and Grant McLennan. Sonically, late ’80s college rock is filtered through song-forward lo-fi acts like East River Pipe and House of Tomorrow-era Magnetic Fields. Like the images that accompany his releases – flowers and residential street scenes are pushed to the breaking point with colour – Donaldson’s songs are at the same time dazzling and lurid, beautiful and burdened, not unlike life as a musician around here.
In the liner notes, Donaldson dedicates the record “to everyone who ever tried to start a band in the Bay”. There will be many knowing smiles at his title, ‘It’s Too Late For An Early Grave’. But, this dedication captures something else about the particular strain of sincerity that laces the city water supply – the front man around here is on stage under those lights evincing the fervor not of the pop star but of the biggest fan.
The Town That Cursed Your Name – The Reds Pinks And Purples has been added to your bag.