Things are tense. I won’t deny it, and I won’t undermine your very valid concern by advocating that you just need to relax (trust me, I know that has never actually worked). But no matter how the global panic is affecting you, I think plenty of us could use a cup of tea, a comfy chair, 63 rolls of toilet paper for some reason, and some nice, mellow tunes. Lucky for us, Louis Prince just dropped Thirteen, inadvertently (I presume) giving us the perfect soundtrack to temporarily drown out the chaos.
Thirteen, James McMullen’s debut album under a new moniker, Louis Prince, strikes the perfect balance of accessible and esoteric, with catchy melodies and bouncing rhythms swathed in layers of curious intervals and experimental production. The album saunters through songs like alleyways in the loop- every liminal space painstakingly intricate and eye-catching, but ultimately existing primarily to guide you to the next architectural masterpiece. And even though there’s a masterpiece around every corner- the hook in “afterward,” the bridge of “MN,” the “Ode” drum wizardry- each one still somehow catches you off guard. Here is where I would typically indent, start a new paragraph and a new thought, but in this case, that wouldn’t feel like an honest reflection of the continuous, flowing stream of consciousness style of the album. Under the guise of its meandering pace, it swings like a sine wave to the extremes of the style. Sometimes seamlessly, sometimes abruptly, like the driven, upbeat rhythm of “Lounging” to the ethereal floating layers of “Floating Cathedral.” Sometimes the feel changes completely in the middle of a song, like in “The Number Thirteen,” which contains the coolest rhythmic transition in recent memory. All of this creates an air of refined impulse that defines the whole album and makes it feel more authentic in its expression. And now we can indent.
Do you feel like you need to mellow out? Do you like Bon Iver? Tame Impala? James Blake? Would you like it if they all had a baby together? Unfortunately, science has not yet come that far. But check out the next best thing. It’s mellow enough to relax from the chaos outside, but still complex enough to distract from the chaos inside, you know? Give it a listen!