Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Songs for Walter - 4 song EP on Bleeding Gold Records
There are bands that force you down their road of sadness and self pity, forcing you to relive that pain along with them in every track and then there are bands who won't let you be anything but happy. It might be a harder sell in a world of cynical bastards but Songs for Walter, the solo project of Laurie Hulme, won't let that stop him. This single is literally a conceptual EP about his grandfather Walter, down to imagined experiences of the World War and his wedding day all delivered in a sincere twee sound that's cleanly produced with all of that enthusiastic experimentation that goes beyond your typical pop. It's handmade and personal. I really hate the twee label but something like this could take it back from whiny babies.
"Meet Me At The Empire" has such a hyper pop sound with high register disarming vocals. Pristine layered acoustics fly in the face of lo-fi and Laurie sounds damn young or just unjaded. The strum even carries this optimism punctuating every BANG ON THE DRUM. For some reason I'm picturing the Empire as a diner, is that a real place? I could see this as one of those hopeful uplifting moments of a soundtrack just after some kind of new love. Yuck, hope and innocence.
A flutey sound launches "Flowers on the Windsill" into a sort of Pouges-lite sound with a chorus of children singing along. Laurie is intent on performing on the undeniably peppy side of pop. Should have seen it coming with a title like this, it would be pretty hard to go sad bastard - unless you're a real creep. The olde time photos on the sleeve were already setting up this nostalgic direction that can't help but have a hint of melancholy. The woman on the cover probably isn't around anymore...was she that much different then me posting about seven inches? Standing in front of that crazy flying machine must have been worth a photo. Songs for Walter are just as much looking back with that rosy lens way but I don't blame them, you can't ever go back to being oblivious to bills or responsibility.
B-Side's "Purple Blue" starts out at woodblock slow tempo with a bell chime ringing alongside the acoustic fingerpicking? They've hit that faded memory part of the brain that goes straight for sadness. The track has a Kinks feel to the melody, something about the phrasing of "head to toe / in Purple Blue". A lightness like the whistling of The Drums or Peter Bjorn and John, so blatantly indie pop they seem like they're almost rubbing your face in it. They get away with this alright. Do it again.
A ukulele then pretty much seals it on "Tin Can" and they've unapologetically pulled all the heartstrings possible in this smooth feeling Neutral Milk Hotel without a hint of darker things, just that similar powerful energy. Not sure if Laurie has since moved on and this was a one off solo project but that would just be even more appropriate.
On clear coke bottle green vinyl from Bleeding Gold Records, like your childhood. I'm also biased since I just named my son Walter and along with that story about his grandfather there's no way I wouldn't like this...I'm in a vulnerable place.