Biscuits, Triscuits…

Chris Garneau- El Radio
August 1, 2009, 3:14 pm
Filed under: music and musings

a shorter, more edited version of this will appear in the Deli at some point.

Chris Garneau


Absolutely Kosher

Chris Garneau’s second full-length release, months later than expected, is chalked full of horns, rolling keys, and whispery vocals. The use of strings, blues-y piano, and klezmer style organs makes Garneau somewhat of an oddity in the indie-pop world. He still maintains his attachment to cutesy things (he says the word “cuppycakes”) and strange analogies (“I don’t want your pirates anymore”?) but he does sound much more matured as a songwriter. There are strange sounds on this album which I believe is called percussion, something not previously associated with Garneau, but it gives him a fuller, more developed sound.

That being said there seems to be something missing as well. He is either extremely passionate and confident in his songs or he just sounds so so sad, but it’s hard to pinpoint why. There are overpowering strings and accordion that are just drowning with their misery and his cracking voice seems to scream for something but I don’t know what. In “The Leaving Song,” the entering note feels like a car crash and then wailing strings enter, creating an awful pit in one’s stomach. Then “Fireflies” enters with an almost “Flight of the Bumblebees” organ drone and quirky clanging and whistling bursts up and down. Garneau sings high-pitched and quick until the chorus, which bends with a baroque feel. It’s very quirky and a great combination of seemingly traditional styles of instrumentation with a newer experimental sound. It’s beautiful and raw sometimes and provocative and then he bounces into this vibrant silly quickness and while the musicianship is impressive, any message seems lost.

The great thing about Chris Garneau is how easily he can portray emotion through his instrumentation. Just a strike of a chord or a banging of a drum and you know what type of song it will be and it can just swallow you up. But there still seems to be an element of being lost in Garneau’s songs. I want more from him and I feel like it’s just on the other side of this invisible door. I love how he can write tunes that are flowing with musical talent and bursting with emotions and how he can also create pieces that are bubbly and funny and strange but it’s sometimes hard to connect the two. Perhaps I am expecting or asking too much because the album is gorgeously orchestrated and the songs are so well written. But I think there was a liveliness in Garneau’s previous releases that perhaps has been overshadowed with maybe too much thought and maturity.

-Lauren Piper


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