Release Date: 28th October 2014
Civil Inattention was the first song I’d heard from Restorations. One week later after wearing out the keys on my keyboard from talking about it, I found myself on BandCamp importing LP2 into my iTunes. Hearing songs such as Civil Inattention, Quit and The Plan, started a sort of obsession with the record for quite some time. I listened in the car, I listened whilst cooking, I even listened whilst I was in the gentleman’s room. In June, I had the chance to interview vocalist and guitarist Jon Loudon shortly before the release of LP3, which came out on the 28th October on SideOneDummy.
In truth, I’ve been sitting on this record for quite a few weeks now, trying to decide the best way to tackle it, and the best way to dive right in. Normally, the best is saved to last for the purposes of finale, but as far as this review is concerned the first song I have to talk about is No Castle, a song two from the end that truly stuck with me on the first listen. The song opens with a dirty noise mesh of guitars, and bass and drum. In some ways, it’s a sound confusing to the ear, and partly makes the band difficult to describe on every occasion that I’ve tried. There is a subtle drive to the melody, buried deep, only detectable when real attention is paid, you find yourself drumming on tables with your fingers before your mind has even realised what it is. The bass is louder when it’s played by Restorations, adding extra rhythm, and undeniable grubbiness. The guitar is set to high-pitch wail, heavily distorted much like stoner-rock cousins Kyuss. For me, this is the most all-out rock tune on the entire record, and will always be the first song I go to, in a playlist, and conversation.
Now that that is out of my system, we’ll move on to Separate Songs, track two from the album and the lead single in the run up to LP3′s release. It opens far slower, far more melodic, the drum beat clear and partnered with the band’s typical work on the cymbals and designed to match the rolling punches of LP2, and for a moment you could be lead to believe that Jon’s about to sing “I’m a real person aren’t I?” from In Perpetuity Throughout the Universe. The guitar is gentle, mostly picked and packed with overdrive, coaxing out the true emotionalism of the track: “Condemned to be forever unable, to give this stupid thing the time that it deserves. I heard a proud few when the windows were gone, all singing the same time to separate songs.” It would seem that riddles are integral to Restoration’s work, confusing, often unclear of true meaning, but at the same time you cannot ignore the significance of them. One other obvious example of this lies in the outro, the track grinds to a halt, the guitar stands alone, alternating between notes, picked back and forth singing: “Your forehead up against the frozen subway glass. The neon “next stop” light blinks “maybe next year”.” For those of us that liked the band’s previous record, this close shave of emotion, and musicianship will come as a welcome overlap. If nothing else can be said for Restorations, you can say that they’re somewhat unique. However, if you were hoping to hear something new from this album, you can find it, just not on this single.
One of the songs that’s more likely to give you something new is the opening track Wales. It opens in a psychedelic state of being underwater, or perhaps in the midst of the throbbing of an engine, or even the ultra-sound of a baby in the womb. The drum beats are guiding, hard and furious. These are greeted by the grungy notes on the guitar, space-age, enduring, and wobbling. After a first minute goes by, the whole track comes alive, the typical distortion creeps through, the drums are holding nothing back, and Jon Loudon, sings of deserts and hearts as if he were caught in some Beat dream about thirty yards away from bumping into Hunter S. Thompson. Then, something new happens… Jon’s voice becomes darker, straight out of an Alice in Chains track and you can feel the band stepping up the gears of heaviness. The guitars screech in solo, wild and out of control before returning to this mysterious sound we hear at the beginning. Wales shows a heaviness unlike much of what we hear again on this record, it’s truly a progressive step in the right direction.
However, there comes a time in every review that we must start to focus on the negatives. I’ve found that with Restorations, Jon Loudon’s voice can often be very repetitive, and seems to have very little scope in his pitch. There are times that his voice is truly remarkable, such as in songs like No Castle, Wales and Tiny Prayers, there are other times such as in the songs The Future, It’s Not, and Most Likely a Spy, where it becomes difficult to tell the difference between one song and another. It’s unsure whether Jon’s voice is naturally limited to this sort of sound, or whether he chooses to sing in this way because of personal preference. Either way, it would be nice to hear Restorations change it up a little more in the future.
Overall, the album is a definite lodestone in their discography, a record which all their energy is magnetised towards and proves to be a step-up, and a step-onwards from their previous work. It has something to offer the die-hard fans, something to offer the new fans, and acts as an accessible entry point to anyone keen to ride this train.