I looked at the press release accompanying the album: Another indie-rock/folk band from Seattle. Another musical project fueled by a bad break-up and the Northwest's dour weather (it said it right there in the PR materials). "I've heard this before," I thought. And it's true, sort of: Yes, the lead guy, Eric Anderson, has that quintessential, nasally voice. Yes, the tunes, while catchy, well-recorded and well-played, sound a little familiar.
And then I listened closer: Man, can this guy write lyrics! Get past the banjo and the horn section, and there's some really smart stuff going on. I've never heard a lyricist reference glaciers, invasive insects, urethras, marigolds, kneecaps, gas stations and zip codes so effectively. Lines like "You're not a savior, / You're a long-awaited malheur" sound pretentious on paper, but somehow don't when sung.
The album's opening line, "Let's begin at the end of a bad year," sets the tone. These songs are earnest, and while that usually bugs me, this earnestness feels earned. Sure, they're break-up songs (although surprisingly upbeat), but they feel familiar, as though Anderson took that malaise we've all felt and actually did something useful with itlike make a cool album.
Cataldo plays the Top Hat Fri., March 9, at 10 PM, opening for Blind Pilot. $12. Sold Out.