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Eric Bachmann - No Recover

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 3 / 11 / 2018



Eric Bachmann - No Recover
Label: Merge Records
Format: CD

intro

Minimalist but haunting second solo album from ex-Crooked Fingetrs frontman and Americian producer and musician Eric Bachmann


At the end of 2011, my brother did something unusual. As a Christmas present, he gave me an album I hadn’t asked for in advance. In fact, an album I didn’t even know existed. When we were growing up, I tended to ask for new music at Christmas. He would ask for computer games. And, as a result, he tended to borrow my Eels albums. I would have to wait until he was out for a go on the Super Nintendo. But, when he gave me a copy of ‘Breaks in the Armour’ by Crooked Fingers, he knew he was on to a sure thing. How, he wondered, had I not already heard this record? I still play it regularly, at least once every few weeks and often more. I remain amazed that it isn’t cited more widely as a classic. But a classic it definitely is. Crooked Fingers was one of those ‘band in name only’ outfits. The main man was Eric Bachmann, with a rotating cast of friends and hired hands. By the time, he came to make ‘Breaks in the Armour’, he was a solo artist in all but name. He admitted later that he regretted using the ‘band’ name. It turned out to be the last Crooked Fingers album. During his first two decades, Bachmann had prolifically churned out albums. First, with his band Archers of Loaf, who operated somewhere between Pavement and Superchunk. Then, with Crooked Fingers, where his stock-in-trade became eerily melancholic singalongs. Nobody who loved Crooked Fingers should feel at all worried that he had abandoned the band name. 2016’s eponymous album had a fuller sound than ‘Breaks in the Armour’, with piano taking the lead. And, while I didn’t think it was quite as good, it added a handful of classic melodies to his catalogue. Now, ‘No Recover’ reverts to the minimalism of ‘Breaks in the Armour’. Acoustic guitars and subtle, bubbling electronics make up most of the sound. And yet, the melodies are so consistently strong that it never sounds thin. I was humming along to ‘Daylight’ and ‘Murmuration Song’ on my very first listen. The title track is an inversion of the melody of Big Star’s 'Thirteen'. And where that song is a celebration of youth, this is world weary - “Expectation’s always getting you down/No good movies ever show in this town/All the highways heading out are so clear/Don’t know why we hang around every year”. And yet, the soaring melody is beautiful (if not wholly original) – and the song takes an expected twist when he suddenly tempers the bleak words with a repeated phase out of ‘Ain’t it good to feel the sun on your skin.” Even better is ‘Waylaid’, which would have sat nicely and stood out on any one of his Crooked Fingers albums. It starts out as a simple tune, reminiscent of Springsteen doing a Leonard Cohen cover. But, as double tracked jangly electric guitars are built into the melody, it soars. I normally have to listen to this one twice. Throughout the album, Bachmann’s judgment is perfect. He repeats things over and over, but stops just as you might have wanted something new. He drops an unexpected keyboard line at exactly the right moment. There is never a boring moment. Nothing here is too complex. Nothing is too simple. Perhaps the album is best summed up by the lilting, repetitive instrumental ‘Yonah’. It is just acoustic guitars and a wordless vocal. And yet, there is never the temptation to press skip when it arrives at the album’s halfway point. Only time will tell if this record proves to have as long a shelf life as ‘Breaks in the Armour’ (that is a very high hurdle to jump). But as the album plays out with ‘Dead and Gone’, which is the only track that seems to directly reflect the recent birth of Bachmann’s first child, my only thought is to turn straight back to the first song. As both an album to be played back-to-back in order and as a collection of nine songs, all of which are more than mixtape worthy, ‘No Recover’ ticks every conceivable box. You may wonder why I am giving such a good review to an album many other critics have dumped in the ‘seven-ish out of ten’ box. I suppose all that can be said is that, having loved Bachmann’s earlier work so much, I came to this record wanting and expecting to love it. So, perhaps I am over-selling it But I can’t imagine any of those other critics wrote their reviews after more than three listens. I’ve been kplaying it twice a day for a month. So, just trust me and buy the damned thing. Okay. It’s a brilliant album.



Track Listing:-
1 Jaded Lover, Shady Drifter
2 Daylight
3 Murmuration Song
4 Boom and Shake
5 Yonah
6 No Recover
7 Waylaid
8 Wild Azalea
9 Dead and Gone


Label Links:-
http://www.mergerecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Merge-Records-88476979019/timeline/
https://twitter.com/mergerecords
https://www.youtube.com/user/mergerecords



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