American Aquarium – Wolves
For the slightly world weary, the permanently lonely at heart, the pathologically self-deprecating, and those for whom the sight of a half empty glass would represent a really good day. Put the bunting up. Because American Aquarium have renewed their membership of the club. After threatening to call it a day with 2012’s magnificent Burn. Flicker. Die., BJ Barham and the boys have heaved a heavy sigh, raised themselves slowly up, and delivered another great set of songs. From the start, we’re left in no doubt as to how things stand. “I ain’t gettin’ any younger, Every day’s an uphill battle, Staring down the barrel of choices I’ve made”. Oh boy, that’s track 1. “‘Cos it’s a certain kind of despair that hangs heavy in the air, … And there’s a southern sadness that won’t let go of this heart of mine”. Oh my, that’s track 2. And so it goes on. Not that there’s no redemption. There’s often comfort at home. And even if we learn that BJ’ll “never be an acrobat flyin’ high on the trapeze”, there’s solace in the thought that he’s “just a singer struggling to stay on key”, because, he tells us, “That’s the man I’m supposed to be”. It’d all be just a little too much if the songs weren’t almost perfectly composed. Jason Isbell produced Burn. Flicker. Die. and there are times here when the songwriting is just as precise as anything on Southeastern. This time it’s Brad Cook of Megafaun at the helm. He’s done a fine job. Even at first listen, it’s like coming across a bunch of songs you’ve grown up with. At this point in their career, American Aquarium are a band who seem like they’re still unsure of themselves, but who sound like they know exactly what they’re doing. And that’s a really nice mix.