Ease Up A Little is an endearing and intimate work for those who like their art a little wonky
Drawing similarities to Devendra Banhart and early Architecture In Helsinki, the album is a collage of ideas and vignettes that collectively shape an identity. There's an honesty to the record, with some moments of painful self-deprecation. The lyrics walk a fine line between direct, naïve and undeveloped. This is shown clearly on Out Of Tune & Out Of Time: “Oh dear it's painfully clear/Despite the walls closing near/It's all in one ear/And out through the rear”. There are wonderful moments of melody and interesting phrases, but they're repeated instead of developed. This becomes wearing on a few tracks, especially She Hold and Chance Of A Lifetime. As actual songs, many seem unfinished, but this is offset by the production and arrangements that are inventive, at times experimental and always in motion.
Intro is one of the most focused moments of songwriting on the record, leading into the complete song of Crazy Little Birthmarks. Here the songwriting is cleaner and more sure of itself, the most conventional song by far but still with a sharp edge.
There are fascinating tensions between the earnest delivery and the self-deprecating humour; and the layers of intricate production that still result in a loose and scrambling sound. Existing in an indie DIY context, it's clear that Fagan enjoys exploring sonic ideas and narrative in unusual ways. Ease Up A Little is an endearing and intimate work for those who like their art a little wonky.
Veterans lead this week's releases with new albums from Tim Rogers & The Bamboos (Album Of The Week) and Daniel Johns plus albums from Ella Thompson, The Vaccines and Unknown Mortal Orchestra.