Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: album reviews, Isaac Brock, Modest Mouse, Port O'Brien, Releases of the Week
PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Port O’Brien’s “My Will Is Good” MP3
WE GIVE IT: 16/20 Watts
Once again, Port O’Brien hits home with another emotionally heavy and musically gratifying release, this time with Threadbare. The album is the group’s darkest pursuit to date, and confirms a new maturity that can be found in the group’s writing. Departing from the nautical theme that has been ever-present in the group’s work to-date, it is a marked change in both sound and lyrical content.
The album traces the progression of emotions that one often finds themself experiencing after the death of a loved one. Its inspiration came from the unfortunate passing of Goodwin’s younger brother. Some may speculate, however, that this is the reason for the bottomless emotion that can be heard on some of the tracks.
And Goodwin vocalizes the album’s theme beautifully throughout the movement of the songs. Although sometimes a bit heavy with reverb, her voice possesses an airiness that is heavy with anguish (see “(((Darkness Visible)))”). Her male counterpart, Pierszalowski, shares some equally poignant vocalizations. Listeners will immediately liken him to the easily identified, sort-of-southern crooning of Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, with whom Port O’Brien have toured with in the past.
Some may also feel, however, that the album is a bit too slow-moving and sometimes sleep inducing. Still, this is offset by the record’s ingenious track listing. Port O’Brien managed to place their songs in such an order that the most melancholy-laden, down-tempo tracks are flanked by the more up-tempo, light folk jams (see the progression from “Sour Milk/Salt Water” to “Leap Year”), accurately mirroring the constantly-fluctuating state of emotions that mourners often experience.
The album is bookended by the two tracks “High Without Hope 3” and “High Without Hope”. The two cuts are easily the most significant moments of the collection. They convey the sense of empty elation that Goodwin herself experienced in the recording process of the album. The fact that the album both begins and ends with this idea makes it all the more emotionally-charged.
Overall, Port O’Brien’s third release is the group’s most significant yet. The album’s emotional weight, coherence and musical maturity set the group apart from their folk and indie peers, and hopefully have got some more, less-tragic releases in their future.
— John Luposello