Monday, January 23, 2012

Album Review: Matt Pryor - May Day

Album Rating: B+
Matt Pryor, a name known to many a troubled 90's youth, has been fairly active as of late. Not only will The Get-Up Kids have up and coming tour dates, but The New Amsterdams will see a compilation, and a not-yet-announced project with friends of Pryor will see the light of day as well. However, the forward motion of this rolling stone begins with May Day, the second solo release in Pryor's solo, acoustic folk effort. Each of the songs has a heartfelt quality about them, and that's not just because half of the songs sound like lo-fi recordings from a dinghy room lit by a single, bare bulb, but more the bright, uplifting yet quiet, melancholy aspects that the songs seem to portray. Pryor's creativity comes bursting out of May Day with great gusto, impressive not only from an album written, recorded, and mixed in a month, but for any indie effort period.

"Like A Professional" is the first song that changes the upbeat mood of the album to a darker, more reflective tone. "And what became of everyone I used to know / I wrote that song for you, and I meant every word", Pryor reminisces, to a solo acoustic guitar and a reverbing organ (or something similar - the sound's hard to place, but fits the song so very well). The trio of the sounds doesn't seem like it can effectively move the song, but the organ leads a gentle progression in this bitter tune in a softly somber manner. Coupled with the twang of steel strings on wood and a breathy whine from Pryor, the song slows and fades to a gentle stop like a candle slowly burning to its end, and flickering out.

"Your New Favorite" brightens the spirit from the song before it, opening with a bright piano and a cheery harmonica. However, the lyrics denote that the song is a false pretense of happiness, as Pryor sweetly sings, "I can lie to you so genuine / I sell it with a smile / I can thank ladies and gentlemen / while breaking up inside". The piano tone in the song makes it seem instantly familiar, left hand pounding out root chords like an old classic that you pop in from time to time just to remember and smile, with the added bonus of a tambourine and a metronomic strumming of guitar to keep the tune bobbing along in this fake contentment. The piano wraps up the laid-back tune with a quiet resolution and puts a fitting end to what may just be your new favorite song (okay, that was bad, even for me).

May Day is an incredibly easy listen, and Matt Pryor pours a lot of who he is into this album. As Pryor talks about on a Midcoast Station interview, "It was written and recorded during a time when I [Pryor] was really just sick of everything and burnt out on making and playing music in general. A lot of the songs reflect that." It's really interesting how a man feeling burnt out on music and people is able to throw together a great record in a month, and how you can only really tell if you know that to start listening - otherwise, the exhaustion is lost under a wave of great sounding songs that send a very different message than they seem to. Whether ye may be a fan of indie folk, previous GUK or New Amsterdams releases, or just looking for something new, May Day is a great listen and has a lot to love. We'll see a lot from Pryor in the future too, I'm sure, so keep an eye out.

May Day comes out Tuesday, January 24th.

Listen to a few tracks on Matt Pryor's Facebook. Also take a look at the interview with Pryor on Midcoast Station.

Track Listing:
1) Don't Let The Bastards Get You Down
2) The Lies Are Keeping Me Here
3) Where Do We Go From Here
4) Like A Professional
5) As If I Could Fall In Love Again
6) Polish The Broken Glass
7) Unhappy Is The Only Happy That You'll Ever Be
8) As Lies Go... This One Is Beautiful
9) Your New Favorite
10) You Won't Get Any Blood From Me
11) I Was A Witness
12) What My Tired Eyes Would View

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