Album Review Alexis Taylor - Await Barbarians

Alexis Taylor - Await Barbarians

Little more than an indulgent side-project.

Rating:

The follow-up to his previous solo LP, ‘Rubbed Out’, released all the way back in 2008, ‘Await Barbarians’ strikes a bold contrast to Alexis Taylor’s most memorable work, in Hot Chip and About Group. Assuredly, the record sees him playing to his strengths, wrapping intricate, yet uncomplicated structures around his ever-beautiful vocal.

‘From The Half-Way Line’ opens as if it’s been dropped across from Neil Young’s ‘On The Beach’ in a bold way. Taylor’s vocal is familiar, and yet jarring as a sense of serenity permeates as the rest of the song crashes around it, building up to an almost anti-climactic whimper. The line “and everyone knows what I mean” is a grinding statement begging to be made real.

‘Without A Crutch’ jolts Taylor in to a kind of folk appropriation. There’s a harmonica and even a banjo twanging in to the night, perhaps a little too earnestly. These faint strains of Americana court the album’s wider shift in to positioning Taylor as a soloist, in to his own territory away from that closely-associated electronica.

Meanwhile ‘Dolly and Porter’ comes across as an emotional and pleading case for the desire of reciprocated love. The repeated “we could be with and without” makes for another divergent strand, juxtaposed against what sounds like static, but could very much be rain, an aural pathetic fallacy coming to the fore.

Intimate and involving doesn’t necessarily mean that the record is engaging, however, and some tracks wash over without an impression, ultimately making this feel like little more than an indulgent side-project. Not so much disappointing; rather just presenting a particularly shallow shade of Taylor’s work.

More like this

Alexis Taylor - Beautiful Thing

Alexis Taylor - Beautiful Thing

It doesn’t always quite hit those high notes, but the pair have set out to create a sometimes elusive feeling of connection.

In The Studio with… Goat Girl

In The Studio with… Goat Girl

The South London quartet’s self-titled opener made for one of 2018’s most adventurous debuts. Heading into their imminent second, Goat Girl are older, wiser and sticking even further to their guns.

Naked Ambition: The Nude Party

Naked Ambition: The Nude Party

The Catskills sextet might deal in good, old-fashioned rock’n’roll, but amid the late nights and giddy highs we find a band prepared to knuckle down and put in the hours to keep the dream alive.

Talking ‘Bout My Generation: Will Butler

Talking ‘Bout My Generation: Will Butler

Not content with being one sixth of one of this century’s most innovative bands, Will Butler can now add ‘Harvard graduate’ and a second solo album full of curious, questioning brilliance to his CV.