Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh’s finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Patrick Bowman (Pop Filter editor for Pop City)!
How to Dress Well, “Repeat Pleasure” - What is this Heart? is Tom Krell’s third album as How To Dress Well, and on it he has continued pursuing his vision of boundary expansion of R&B. He’s an excellent, emotive songwriter and composer, and he takes the tropes of R&B that can be relatively histrionic--intensely sensitive lyrics, a longing falsetto, really pillowy production--very seriously. As a result, he pushes R&B into places that seem poigiant and real rather than cartoonish, vulgar, and silly.
“Repeat Pleasure” is the best song on What is this Heart?, and like a lot of his Krell’s work, it wrestles with the authenticity of love and pleasure, specifically the sad reality reggarding how passion can fade even after it was burning so bright at the begnning of the relationship. That seems like a pretty standard R&B songwriting theme, but again, Krell has so much conviction in his vision regarding what this music can do, and his songwriting/production execution is so tight, that “Repeat Pleasure” makes big, broad emotions feel devestating and intimate.
Hamilton Leithauser, “11 O’Clock Friday Night” - The Walkmen took an extreme hiatus last year, which allowed lead singer Hamilton Leithauser to release his first solo album Black Hours about a month ago. On it, Leithauser takes the timeless, Tom Waits-ish indie rock of his former band and turns it into a bit of a haggered lounge-act, using production with lush string sections, jazzy interludes, and big showy vocal performances.
The album itself is hit or miss, but “11 O’Clock Friday Night” is just this really pretty, mid-tempo track that could have easily popped up on any one of The Walkmen’s last few albums. It builds slowly around these cryptic lyrics (“It's getting dark between the frames /I lost my light, you're monday's child”) that hazily sketch out a romantic night in a NYC blackout. You get the feeling that at this point in Hamilton Leithauser’s career, he can write these songs in his sleep, with all the chiming guitars and poetic lyrics, and an emotional wave of a chours crashing into you right before the track fades out.