Album Review The Natvral - Tethers

The Natvral - Tethers

One of the most remarkable transformations we’ve seen from a songwriter in recent years.

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There was a sense, around the time that Kip Berman released what we now know to have been the final The Pains of Being Pure at Heart record, that he may have been suffering from a crisis of identity. ‘The Echo of Pleasure’ was released at a time when Kip had recently gone through a not-inconsiderable environment change, from the bustle of Brooklyn - and the attendant music scene, which made Pains’ revolving-door lineup possible - to small-town New Jersey, where he was largely a stay-at-home dad. What resulted was by a distance the weakest Pains album, on which he seemed to be trying to reach beyond the C86 and nineties alt-rock influences of their self-titled debut and ‘Belong’ respectively, but wasn’t sure quite where he wanted to go.

By starting anew with The Natvral, he’s given himself license to make a triumphant comeback. Everything about ‘Tethers’ marks a step away from the Pains sound, doing away with the scuzzy reverb and cooed vocals in favour of boisterous guitars, lyrical content that speaks to his new perspective on life (opener ‘Why Don’t You Come Out Anymore’ a case in point) and arrangements that nod to classic rock - freewheeling alt-country on ‘New Year’s Night’, and urgent, raw balladry on ‘Sylvia, the Cup of Youth’. Kip’s voice might be the biggest revelation here - stripped of effects, it takes on an endearingly rugged character - but across ‘Tethers’, this could be one of the most remarkable transformations we’ve seen from a songwriter in recent years.

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