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Album Review: The Lonelyhearts - Years in the Great Interior

Album Review:  The Lonelyhearts - Years in the Great Interior
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The Lonelyhearts
Years in the Great Interior

Youth and everything in its orbit frequently makes up the core of the songs we all come to know and love. No one can feel the ups and downs of life, love, and everything in between like someone thatís been around enough to have passed naivete but no so much that bitterness seeps into everything that gets said. On the other hand, thereís a long, rich history of those past the post-adolescent years lamenting their age and reminiscing about the good old days, but increasingly, thereís a growing glut of music about the wasteland in between graduations and being an adult. Itís not a new topic, but it is proving to be fertile one. A few years ago, Iowa Cityís late, great, Grand Tetons released their one and only album They Do Move in Herds. Itís a spectacular alt-country album about that specific point in time where thereís no real plan for the future except getting obliterated in the corner booth and trying to keep a lady around for another week. With the release of Years in the Great Interior, The Lonelyhearts take the unique position of looking back on those lost years from the point of view of someone who made it out.

The slightly turned over point of the view of the lyrics isnít the only thing that differentiates Years in the Great Interior. The easy way to label the sound of the Lonelyhearts would to be throw them in with the current crop of Americana-influenced singer-songwriter-ish groups. After all, the duo rely heavily on acoustic guitar as well as majestic harmonies to deliver their tales of lost souls. But to pigeonhole the group as just another jangly, overly-delicate duo would be doing them a disservice. The groupís kaleidoscopic usage of synthesizers brings new colors to the songs by filling in the open air around the guitar with all manner of atmospheric haze and dented electronic riffs. Even though the keys are largely omnipresent, they never become overwhelming or threaten to derail any of the songs, and a large part of that is due to the pristine production and the way the duo are able to have the music integrate so perfectly with the lyrics.

Take, for example, the early highlight ďAutumn PercussionĒ. Itís a got an stately, folky feel in three thatís buoyed by the pitch-perfect harmonies of Andre Perry and John Lindenbaum. It sounds a little bit wistful, and Lindenbaumís voice cracks at just the right times to stamp the song with just a little bit of sadness, and it perfectly mirrors the story told of what happens when you return home after a long absence. This motif continues throughout the entire album, but nowhere is it more perfectly realized than on the albumís stunning centerpiece ďThe California Oak Mortality Task ForceĒ. Lindenbaum begins the track with a gentle fingerpicked riff up the neck of the guitar and slowly begins to describe a late-night meeting at a house party. As the song continues, details of missed opportunities and laments of what could have been build and build on the narrator until all hope is extinguished the line ďWe said goodbye, I just grew old, you forgot my nameĒ. With each piece of the story compounding on the narrator, Perry pipes in more and more layers of oppressive, fuzzed-out synths that mimic the growing weight of the lyrics. Itís a subtle, simple idea, but itís done so effortlessly and consistently well that it elevates the album even higher than it already is.

In a world where it seems the only way to gain traction is to throw as much as one can in the blender and hope something usable comes out, itís good to see a group as focused as The Lonelyhearts. Every single piece of each arrangement is necessary and plays off everything else thatís been oh-so-carefully layered in. With Years in the Great Interior, The Lonelyhearts have managed to make a supremely confident album that manages to leave their own stamp on the genre with haunting harmonies, poignant lyrics, and a truly unique perspective. Years in the Great Interior may take some time to grow on you, but take the time. I think youíll find it well worth the time.

Grade: A-

Track Listing:

1. Princes of Rubble
2. Autumn Percussion
3. Taking You With Me
4. Welcome Center: Lorain
5. The California Oak Mortality Task Force
6. Alexander Palace
7. Queen City of the Lakes
8. Pass Like Night
9. Multi-Unit Housing Makes Bad Neighbors
10. Union
Submitted by Jeremy

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