Outlook Music Co.
They Reappear is Jeremy Larson's newest self-made album that sees Larson take his lovingly crafted songs in an all new direction. Turning from the more alternative rock sound of his previous album, Salvation Club, They Reappear ditches the electric guitars and thrusts Larson's soaring string arrangements to the front of the mix. Performing all the instruments aside from some guest drumming in a few tracks by MuteMath drummer Darren King, They Reappear is both an orchestral pop album and a solo album unlike anything you've probably ever heard in either of those genres.
In most albums that are made almost completely by one person, sacrifices in certain elements of the songs are almost always present. But Larson's attention to detail is almost unprecedented here; check out the bass line on "Beside Manner" or the string sections on "Parasomnias" for example. Larson is no amateur arranger or singer-songwriter, successfully crossing those pesky classical/pop lines with no effort at all. His string parts are full of subtlety and grace, using plenty of extended techniques and string slides to keep things interesting. Again, not only does Larson play all the instruments on the record, he also produced and mixed the album himself, giving They Reappear an incredibly cohesive and unified feel. I really appreciate Larson's faithfulness to his limited instrument palette and unique harmonic language here and it really does pay off when you listen to the album straight through.
Larson has a particularly good ear for unique chord progressions and melodies. Harmonically, vocally, and thematically, Larson fits in nicely with the recent trend of alternative pop/rock bands transitioning to softer, indie pop sound such as Copeland's Eat, Sleep, Repeat and Sleeping at Last's newer recordings. Larson's breed of orchestral pop is usually content in sitting on slower tempos, favoring light drums and delicate piano over the quicker-paced and aggressive sound of other artists who have utilized string parts like Owen Pallett or John Vanderslice's newest material. Its an exciting new direction for Larson in particular, as he sits in a unique spot as a partially trained classical musician with a good ear for songs as well. In my recent interview with Larson, he mentioned that the album was at first going to be instrumental and act as a sort of resume for diving into the world of television and film scoring. A lot of the instrumental tracks on the album are incredibly strong and provide some of the most poignant moments on the album such as on "Night Terrors" where Larson's fragile piano chords are contrasted against Darren King's frantic drumming or "Provoke" that shows off Larson's music-school piano skill and darker compositional style.
As an album, the songs drift in and out, often blurring the lines between instrumental interludes and full-fledged songs. The songs run into one other, providing a long and continuous experience that definitely lends itself to the overall affect on the listener. However, this part of the album's strengths is also the album's most noteworthy weakness as well. I found it easy to put the record on and let the songs pass by me without a lot sticking out. For the most part, I am totally okay with that as catchy choruses aren't exactly what this album is all about. However, I felt that in a few of the more poppy songs like "Riochet" and "Empire", the songs could have developed more and created a stronger sense of arrival at those choruses both vocally and instrumentally. These are dainty pop songs that have a lot of color and character, but sometimes lack the dynamics required to create those truly memorable moments that you expect in a song of this style. Vocally, I felt like even something as simple as more harmonies and overdubbing could have really brought out the melodies in these songs.
However, I don't want to downplay the personal accomplishment that is They Reappear. Despite some of the problems I had with it, its an incredibly impressive endeavor and is quite satisfying in its own right. Larson has a lot of original ideas and all the musical talent in the world to deliver a great execution. Whether its in a film score, another solo album, or more collaborations with other artists, I definitely am looking forward to hearing more from him. And if you appreciate the classy, more soft rock side of indie pop, you'll certainly find a lot to like in the They Reappear.
Jeremy Larson - Ricochet