There’s a certain calm detachment that rules Alex Calder’s new e.p. Time. It’s as if he woke up from a nap, grabbed a beer from the fridge, and decided to record some songs in his living room. It doesn’t feel forced or over complicated. The songs have a stream-of-consciousness vibe to them that makes you drop the needle on Time two or three times in a row. But under that do-what-you-feel vibe there’s also a darker, more ominous sound lurking. One that could soundtrack a stalker’s stroll through a darkened suburban neighborhood on a balmy summer night. His calm, detached movements accompanied by a song like ‘Time’. The slapback echo guitar pushing the prowler’s footsteps as he inches closer to his object of desire’s bedroom window. It’s calming, cool, and discerning all at the same time. Alex Calder has recorded a series of dreamy, stoned vignettes that would go well with a beer and a couch or a disturbing nightmare. Take your pick.
Alex Calder is Canadian and calls Edmonton, Canada home. How that fact shaped the songs Calder wrote, performed, recorded, and mixed in his living room that became Time remains to be seen. The fact that he played with fellow Captured Tracks artist Mac DeMarco in Makeout Videotape may give more insight into the quirky, dreamy, and slightly psyched-out pop songs on this rather fascinating and at times hypnotic album. ‘Suki and Me’ has a distance to it, as if Calder is recording in a vacuum. His vocals slightly overpowered by the music gives the feeling of a specter attempting communication from the great beyond. Despite the ghostly lean, there’s also a stoned ambivalence that makes you think Calder doesn’t care whether you listen or not. He’s doing this for him and no one else. Well, maybe for beer money too. ‘Light Leaves Your Eyes’ sounds like the latter half of Deerhunter’s Cryptograms, all shimmery guitar and hazy smiles. That post-surgery numb, well before the pain begins. You hear the joy of a young artist creating in this song. It’s as if you can see the empty beer bottles on the coffee table as he records his “oohs” into the microphone. ‘Location’ sounds like Diiv in a sinister mood, while ‘Captivate’ has a stoned, Real Estate sway to it. It’s as if at any moment the train could come off the tracks but never does. ‘Fatal Delay’ has Alex Calder sounding like a cross between Kurt Vile and Joel Plaskett if both had drank a 12 pk of La Fin Du Monde. ‘Lethargic’ is a sleepy, melancholy closer to an e.p. filled with many sleepy, melancholy tunes.
Alex Calder is a home recording, DIY kind of guy musician. He set up shop in a living room somewhere in Canada -possibly near a lake- with some beers in the fridge and created a short and sweet stoned pop masterpiece. Next time around he should buy more beer and write more songs.
9 out of 10