After a full week of caning Father John Misty’s 'I Love You, Honeybear', out of some inexplicable yet fundamental love for his post-modern, no-nonsense narcissism/self-doubt dichotomy – and more pertinently, his ace acoustic cover of Arcade Fire’s 'The Suburbs' –, it’s a breath of fresh air to return to the land of the earnest, of cheeks uninhabited by tongues. Tim Korenich, with his debut LP 'What A Weird Thing', manages a near-perfect combination of alt-folk nostalgia and modern musical conceit – and here’s how.
The nostalgia game is nothing new to the wider folk scene. You needn’t look further than FJM, or Bonnie Prince Billy, or Dad Rocks!, or Mermonte, to find something that conjures up that very particular nostalgia, perhaps the same one you feel when hearing that song from ‘Hello Dolly’ at the beginning of 'Wall-E', or any song by George Gershwin unexpectedly. In this game, Korenich’s album represents the sober side of today’s '50s-love-pop pastiche – the earnest, measured approach in comparison to tremolo-singing(/squealing) lovesick-core TRUDY or surf-rock-Beach-Boys Spring King. There’s a tenderness to the LP that leans Korenich closer to the place in ‘Singer-Songwritersville’ where Hey, Sleeper and Colin Macleod (formerly The Boy Who Trapped The Sun) live.
The album opens with ‘What’ll It Take’, a neat introduction that starts the LP off with Los-Camp guitar, husky vocals and some well-thought harmonies that are pure ear-candy. The track fills out in a lush, pleasant, spacey fullness, building with slightness and warmth. The next track is our first honest-to-goodness taste of what the album perhaps does best; ‘Darlin’ evokes the slow-paced '60s surf song, those post-war halcyon days of happily-ever-after, without treading too heavily on dreampop’s happy-clappy modern takes on the same. Korenich pairs frank lyrics with vocal lines to make you melt, while the song’s laid-back aesthetic is contrasted by a lead guitar that leaps, itches to leave like a small-town kid looking at the bus to L.A.
‘SRT’ starts out with a plaintive piano note, repeated over increasingly fervent drums and falsetto until a horn-imbued denouement/moment of clarity, whereupon Tim and his backing harmonise along with airy "ba-dums" and "oohs". What follows is ‘Natural Light’, the album’s lullaby ode. A hymn-esque drone lullaby-holds the warm, clear electric guitar, honest vocals – "When night falls/I don’t need walls/to keep the light in/when you strip down to your natural light" – and reverberated horns climbing to somnolent grace. ‘How We’ve Grown’ juxtaposes ‘Natural Light’’s night-time setting with the fingerpicked guitars of a morning chorus. Lush harmonies stab in at choice words, while the instruments hit the perfect balance of enfolding warmth (held by the droned bass part) and toned, trebled clarity. Korenich’s vocals sit behind the guitar, as if waking to it and singing still from half-sleep.
‘Sweet Summer Rose’ is a standout track on 'What A Weird Thing', if only for it being perhaps the most discretely complete songs on the album, as well as a perfect modern evocation of that '50s love-song nostalgia. Brushed drums, warm guitar and '60s warble permeate your ears, and intentionally cliché, dated lyrics melt the heart. ‘Tim Vs Weasel’ brings the album back towards its other mode; synth loops burble under now-idiosyncratic jazz chords, this time put to a Bonnie-Prince-Billy-meets-Elliott-Smith dirt-folk lament. Loops and delays melt Korenich’s layered vocals into each other while a tremeloed electric guitar skitters over like a dying storm cloud.
Tim Korenich's website
The Sound Of Confusion on Twitter and Facebook