2) Matthew Thiessen and the Earthquakes – Wind Up Bird
Twenty years after he formed the pop-punk band that would come to dominate youth groups across America, Matthew Thiessen finally gives us something totally opposite from the likes of the engine that made him famous. His recent output with Relient K has hinted at a steady change within him, as they’ve matured over the years. The likes of Chapstick and chemistry classes are way in the rearview mirror, and has made way for large collaborative efforts (2013’s Collapsible Lung) and alternative pop rock (2016’s Air For Free).
Going into Wind Up Bird, I didn’t really didn’t know what to expect. The few scattered tracks over the years that he had recorded under this moniker only appeared on compilation albums, and only totaled six tracks since the first one surfaced back in 2001. Four originals. One Cover. One acoustic version of Faking My Own Suicide. That’s it. Most were piano-heavy ballads, and while enjoyable, were standard singer-songwriter fare (save for 2001’s I Hate Christmas Parties, which will rip your teenage heart out every time). Is this what we were in for; more of the same?
Not at all.
We always knew that Thiessen was more than a singer in a pop-rock band, and Wind Up Bird proves it. The record is incredibly restrained, with brilliant horn sections, beautiful harmonies (courtesy of Ellie Schmidly), and intricate structures and storytelling. There’s not even a slight dose of anything even close to punk or rock. Forest is one of the highlights, with Robin Hood and Little John jiving their way through the innocence of their youth. Climb is another stellar track, showcasing a powerhouse vocal from Thessiean, the likes of which we have never heard before, and he aches from trenches – Relationships need not be pressed to the limits that you test them to / what if they abandon you?. I’m Gonna Cry cripples you again, only to turn around with Daydream, which closes the record perfectly. It captures the musings of a possible new love in about as sweet of a way as you could ever hope to experience for yourself. We’ve all been there – Matt just magically wove it into a three minute track. Wind Up Bird is perfect from start to finish, and worthy of your immediate attention.
Listen To: Man Of Stone
SMLXL, August 31st, 2018