If Brian Borcherdt on the 2018 LP Blackout Summer sounds disarmingly and curiously calm, it could be because this Toronto lo-fi project encompasses a repast from his amped-up electro project Holy Fu**, a legitimate progenitor of new sounds and styles and music. Blackout Summer finds the mellow Deerhunter albums Microcastle and Halcyon Digest as probably its closest influence reference point, Borcherdt’s voice though coming across as measurably nasal and thick with genuine peeved emotion, as if singing this music to him amounts to sort of scratching some sort of essential, preternatural itch.
One feather in this album’s cap, upon even a cursory listen, is variety, one advantage it has over Bonny Doon, whom I’ve just covered. Instead, in other words, of coming across as based upon one single, static and warmed over “groove” method, these songs seem as if birthed from on high, the light and celestial guitar (which again calls to mind Lockett Pundt and company) coming across as more conceptual technical. In other words, these delicate but intricate pop songs are plied from extremely small nodes, like birds’ feathers, rather than being blueprints or reprints of overall SCORES or completions that have come before. The inspiration comes from the world itself.
The first three tracks on Blackout Summer sidle along with semi-believable ambient intimacy. It was on track four, though, “Cut Corners” that I really realized Borcherdt was making a music lover’s album. Freeing itself from drums, the beautiful and gentle ode “Cut Corners” swathes itself in this deep and textural rhythm guitar which might call to mind a blur ballad like “No Distance Left to Run,” the mood of melancholy and resignation roughly aligning therewith as well. “Dead Eyes” then cuts even deeper: the “Dead eyes / They got nothing left inside / Doesn’t mean they’ve got nothin’ to hide” stanza which opens the song unveiling an important modification on what had prior been considered the nadir of human spirituality. This is pop music which is sure to play as anthemic for any punctilious, patient listener with an appreciation for subtle genuineness.
“Will Not Disappear” then, again, is defiantly languid and soft, but beautiful, needless of drums and with a vocal that sidles stylishly in and out of falsetto, flanking a gentle electric guitar tone every bit worthy of the most intimate moments on Exile in Guyville. To be sure, this isn’t an album you’ll put on at a party or a barbecue, but then, we’re all sober on SOME nights, aren’t we? We’ll maybe be a little more ably so, now, with the help of Blackout Summer, from the cold part of the continent.