Dreamy Storytelling at Just the Right Speed
L.A. indie outfit Radar Brothers are now hitting their twentieth year, and in light of how promising bands can’t seem to keep it together more than a few years, that alone is reason to celebrate. But there is so much more to cheer for at this party: The release of Eight—conveniently the band’s eighth album. It is tastefully executed: layered, sweet and yet melodically raunchy. This is a guitar band. These are guitars used properly—both to massage you and push you around.
Kevin Murphy of So Much Silence stated, “There are certainly complexities to it that I could never understand; I’m just happy to let them carry my brain to some far-off place,” and he is spot-on. Radar Brothers have a penchant for slower-tempo jams, melancholic but beautiful, and this album is true to form. But the band is more creative than ever. You’re on a train or riding shotgun in a car looking out the window and this is what you hear as you watch the passing locale. You’re sitting looking at the phone, waiting to make that call and this is what you hear. This is not a pop album that is easily ingested and forgotten. This is a record to take in over several days, maybe even weeks—and even then you will continue to find new friends in the fruitful arrangements and storytelling.
Eight begins with a jangle and singer–songsmith Jim Putnam muttering, “This face of yours, this face of yours speaks,” and immediately we’ve begun, plunging into warm muddy fuzz set to a nice even stomp. Putnam tells stories of regular folks and common experiences, often with a bizarre twist. “Couch” speaks of “fist fighting in the rain, winding up on the couch that swallows pain,” which sounds like a pretty great couch. “Disappearer” is lush sonic Heaven and begs, “Somebody please, give us a sign, a shutting door, a rock at the window.” Piano chords and clunky percussion stumble around in “Bottle Song,” and we learn “It’s a little thing, you see—to make a nickel into a fortune, a half-baked park turns into a forest.” The words are poetic and searching, all delivered without flash and with quite enough sincerity. And in the end, that is all you need.