[Merge Records - August 22/06]
*Sixeyes Score: 9 out of 10
Review by JP Swenson
In case you didn't know, M. Ward's voice is like a crackling fireplace. Or maybe it's like a nice cup of hot chocolate as you sit by the fire. Or maybe it's like a cozy wool sweater. It doesn't matter. The point is that Post War, his new album, is as comforting as all those things. In the first few tracks, we hear echoes of Roy Orbison and traces of Summerteeth-era Wilco. "To Go Home" is a Daniel Johnston cover that is one of the more upbeat songs and it features Neko Case on background vocals; I'm not familiar with the original so I can't compare them. These songs are romantic and woozy and make for great nighttime listening. "Requiem" rocks it up a little bit, with some louder drums and distorted guitar in the distance. "Magic Trick" is a bit of a country-bluesy number that recalls late period Beatles. "Neptune's Net" is an upbeat instrumental surf tune that is a pleasant change of pace from the generally acoustic rest of the album. "Today's Undertaking" is another Orbison-esque tune, with strings and a rhythmically dramatic ending.
Altogether, this is a pleasant, sad but smiling album with good tunes and nice, velvety melodies. I once read an interview with M. Ward where he said something about wanting his music to sound like is what recorded in the old timey days, but his last album, and this one even more so, bring him gently into the modern age. My only negative comment is that the album is so short, with only 12 tunes that are generally under 3 minutes each. I guess M. Ward doesn't want to give us too much of a good thing.
+ today's undertaking
JP Swenson is a musician and English major who loves to misspell and misuse words. He is fascinated by regional accents and is somewhat ashamed that as a native Pacific Northwesterner, he has no accent.