Portland's best-kept secret, Danny Seim, is finally putting out an album of his solo project lackthereof on a decent-size label. Seim hasn't always felt comfortable as a frontman, which is why he and his friends started Menomena, with Seim playing drums. It's plain silly, because Your Anchor — the ninth lackthereof full-length, and only the third to be on a label instead of a homemade thing — is a great record.
Seim recorded it in his basement: he played and wrote everything. The overall vibe is a melancholic one, with muted vocals and eerie harmonies over huge drums and understated, folkie guitar, kick-ass bass lines, and electronic ambience. (You could almost think about the folkier side of Beck, minus the tongue-in-cheek attitude, or a little like Willy Mason.) Songs like "Last November" and "Ask Permission" build to soaring melodies, buoyed by subtle loops and keyboard burbles. The overall sound is much denser than Menomena, and the songwriting is a little more direct lyrically. If there's any real similarity between the two, it's in the groove (where you might expect it), and the sound of the drums.
What really blows my mind about lackthereof is that Seim manages to create a very organic, natural band sound, even though it's just him overdubbing everything. Things aren't exact, maybe not as off-kilter as early Palace, but definitely here and there the voices don't sync up, the rhythms push and pull, or some little noise will jump out at you out of nowhere. (Check out how the song falls apart at the end of "Locked Upstairs.") The production is stellar though, definitely one for the headphones. (Barsuk)
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