A Quiet Symphony
2011 has seen some solo releases utilizing similar techniques: simple songs with lush, vibrant arrangements. Cass McCombs and James Blake meshed their distinct, subtle vocal styles with such well-crafted instrumentation, it’s no wonder Canadian singer-songwriter, Patrick Watson followed suit. Adventures In Your Own Backyard is charged with chilling, almost exciting tracks perfect for winding down in the summer.
“Lighthouse” and “Blackwind” kick off the album with strings, piano, xylophone, the whole shebang. Rather than a “wall of sound” approach, Watson goes for big instrumentation while keeping each layer distinct and comprehensible. His Sigur Rós-style of constant falsetto seems to casually cut through the big sounds, acting as a complementary instrument, rather than a typical narration.
“Quiet Crowd” is a piano ballad just short of being on Adele’s 19. Its haunting ambiance builds to the point of a comforting pop embrace as Watson comes in with some playful “ba ba bas.” Drums, marchy and light, make a brief appearance.
“Into Giants” and “Strange Crooked Road” are typical indie fair with the right amount of cutesy, maudlin melodies that make teenage girls fall in love with Michael Cera. Early Rilo Kiley is evident in “Into Giants,” with a trumpet – a la “Pictures of Success” – making its way into the outro.
Adventures In Your Own Backyard ends with “Noisy Sunday”; a quiet, whispery send-off, leading into a loud, reverb-filled climax fit for the next M83 album. By now, you should be aware of Watson’s attention to dynamic and imagery. Like a Spielberg flick, he’s able to control your emotions with a simple build-up or moment of clarity. It’s that moment when you know everything is going to be okay in the album – no twists or turns trying to fool the listener into false brilliance. That, in itself, is pretty darn brilliant.