On break from doing co-lead vocal duties in the Brooklyn-based San Fermin, Allen Tate doesn’t stray far from the musical territory of that band with this solo effort Though this first go alone is less intricately orchestrated than his main band – with a focus more on the poetic lyrics than the minimalist music – Tate’s fever dream vocals are the trademark which he carries into anything he does.
This record which, according to Tate, is largely based around the idea of physical and emotional loneliness, reflects exactly that with its far away instruments of melancholia. The music drifts as if being pushed along by a cushion of air at times recalling The Cure’s mellower moments. The best example of this (and my favorite track) is the blissful “Wrapped Up,” which snakes and wanders like a slow moving river headed to unknown ends. Even when Tate’s voice (which sounds almost identical to singer/songwriter Joseph Arthur) rises to it’s strongest point, there is still a vibe of control in the chaos.
“YDF” (Young, Dumb, Numb, Fun) points towards a good mood with it’s quirky OMD-ish keyboard riff. But even here, the lyrics still reflect the sad, despite picking up the tempo of the record. “Don’t Choke” reveals a mildly dark post-punk guitar riff with majestic female background vocal (in an almost gospel, Pink Floyd kind of way) and “CPH” may just inspire you to get to the California coast for a long drive alongside the Pacific.
This record makes little deviation from a somber mood and slow crawling speed. But given the artist’s self-reflection and lyrical introspection, we can’t really expect it to be any different. It seems more like a cathartic undertaking for Tate rather than an attempt to entertain the masses. I would file this under “beautiful, but need to be in the right mood.”
Top Tracks: “Wrapped Up” “Being Alone” “Don’t Choke”
Allen Tate/Sleepwalker/Votiv Music/9 Tracks