There have been a lot of moments lately where a brief bit of melody flutters through my head, or a guitar line, or a beautiful vocal harmony and in the half second before I realize that it’s the Brother Kite I’m sure I’m remembering something by Teenage Fanclub an old small factory song. On their new and as-of-yet unreleased Isolation the band have broadened their already wide-screen with an even greater use of sequenced drums and pulsing electronics over which they lay their incredibly dense and overwhelmingly huge and harmonic sound. This is a band with three guitarists, four if you count Patrick Boutwell’s legendarily awesome looking double-necked Gibson, and while live they sometimes don’t sound as huge as you’d think they should, on record they don’t fuck around one bit; sheer mountains of guitars and cascading live drums and electronic backing tracks completely envelope the listener, four and five-part vocal harmonies that show no limit to their range and beauty, and sharp, expansive songwriting that proves again that Boutwell is a truly great songwriter, possibly the greatest that Providence has ever offered up. His plainspoken voice and soaring harmonies along with guitarist Jon Downs weave a tantalizing narrative of loss, love and, well, isolation over the album’s twelve tracks that while at times gets a bit wordy, never seems tired or without depth.
The band was forced to wait out this city’s seemingly interminable obsession with electronic music while quietly crafting their perfectly gauzy power-pop, and now that everyone’s got their acoustic guitars and twang all in line it seems they’ll have to wait a bit more for their time to be right, but hopefully Isolation will soon have a home with a decent label and all those people pining for the good old pop scene in Providence will have a nice reason to stop complaining all the time and this band will find the audience it richly deserves.
A few weekends back the band played a completely awesome set of Pixies covers downtown and afterwards I complemented drummer Matt Rozzero on how good they sounded and remarked on how much work must have gone into learning the 8 or so songs that they totally nailed. He said they practiced three times. I wanted to punch him in the face.