Friday, February 1, 2008

ALBUM: Are you getting enough sleep, Mr. Walla?

I don't know if it's just me, but Chris Walla looks pretty worn out in all the press photos I've seen. And frankly, he has every reason to be. In addition to producing several records for bands like the Decemberists, Tegan & Sara, and Nada Surf, he has been hard at work with his band Death Cab for Cutie on their album due out later this year (check it out here). And as if that weren't enough, he just happened to release his own album on Barsuk records this week- and that's what we're gonna talk about.

The album isn't ground-breaking- in fact, it's surprisingly ground-ed in the standards of pop and rock. And unlike most ultra-egotistic solo efforts, it's not even a huge departure from his work with Ben Gibbard & company. But the songs are catchy and the melodies infectious, and Chris' talent is apparent. He plays just about every instrument on the album, aside from the drums (played by Jason McGerr and Kurt Dahle- from Death Cab and the New Pornographers, respectively), and his airy vocals carry a quiet sincerity about them.

Those vocals are what kick off the album in Two-fifty, a harmony driven track with only sparse instrumental backup. The song plays like a thesis statement for the album- a little understated, but delivered clearly and deliberately. He hits his stride with Sing Again, a poppy but somber rocker with lyrics like 'a life packed full of mindless joy/ it is not easy to enjoy', before ending rather abruptly, leaving you wondering if you missed something. Some real highlights include the quietly beautiful A Bird is a Song, with its thoughtful lines and pretty harmonies, and the straightforward Everyone Needs a Home, a song about longing that is all too relatable. Political undertones can be felt throughout, from The Score to Everybody On to the pleading Archer V. Light (a personal favorite), and hints of Death Cab can be heard particularly on songs like Geometry &c., It's Unsustainable, and Holes. Every song is tightly written, and the production is seamless- the album is just plain good from start to finish.

So worn out or not, Mr. Walla- if you keep making music like this, I hope you stay busy.


brook said...

oh this excites me so! i freaking love him, and death cab, and postal service and everything chrissy.

meg said...

Boys boys boys- I am so proud that you have taken your music-sharing greatness to the world... I will be sharing your sharing with all I know. I thank you.

Andy • Drew • Andrew said...

chris, what a great idea for a blog! will be checking it periodically.
-andrew garlock