Some shows are starting to be announced for up here in Minneapolis and it has me finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that has been this past year. With the announcement of shows, small local fests, and more, it has made me really want to dig into what the Minneapolis/ St. Paul scene looks like now and that scene includes Present Company. Although their album ‘Talking On Couches’ is from last September, it’s new to me and probably new to some of you so let’s just jump into this!
“Probably” starts off super soft and sweet. Within seconds, this track had my head wandering, well, into my head. It sounds like spring. Does that make sense? It’s just a little whimsical and oh so very pretty. Even when the drums come in, they come in with this soft sense of hesitation. Although I’ll always love my in-your-face-metal, I was falling deeper and deeper in love with Present Company as each note filled my house. The vocals only enhance this very calm and collected feeling. This opening track does exactly what all opening tracks should do- it draws you in and puts you right in the palm of the band’s hand.
Even though the drums come in with a little bit of a more hurried tempo, “Please” continues to provide a very cool, calm, and collected soundscape. There’s something a little dancey about this track with the way the vocals leap from word to word constantly bringing a little more motion to the track. This entire song seems to build up perfectly to “Rabbit Hole” which brings a huge sense of power to this album. Again, and I’m sure I’ll say this a million times throughout this album, everything about this track is still calm but just a bit more powerful. The instrumentation seems to kick up the volume ever so slightly letting the vocals almost dance around the beat in a truly beautiful and very leveled way.
Although the previous tracks started off with almost whimsical instrumentation, “Forget It” stops with the word “Stop”. Although not in your face, it almost shocked me out of the dreamland that Present Company had put me in with the previous tracks. Still, that distinct calming vibe that only Present Company could pull off, this track was an instant favorite of mine just with everything going on in it. Throughout this track, you catch different instruments or different vocals that pop in and out without cause trauma to the track. It’s a cool effect that I think bands really struggle with but Present Company makes it sound and feel so easy and natural.
“Animal” brings a bit more of a somber vibe to this album. The tempo slows and the guitar slides from note to note in a wave-like way. This track really reminded me of the almost ambient nature of “Probably”. I found the placement of this track to be a bit strange but almost refreshing in a way. I was feeling overwhelmed by all of the elements of “Forget It” (in the best way possible) and it was nice to have a track to just sit back and get lost in the music again. “Animal” also led in so perfectly to “Basement” which amps things back up closer to the indie-pop sound that Present Company has. Lyrically, this song hit me right in the gut. “Come for the coffee/ Stay for the wine/ And all we do is cry/ Cause everything’s fine”. I’ll just let those words sink in.
The intro into “Living Room Parade” is so cool. Maybe it’s a keyboard, maybe it’s a guitar– regardless, the tone of the instrument that kicks this track off is so inviting and intriguing. That tone is heard throughout this track but is layered with everything else that Present Company does so well. There’s a cool almost wave-like effect heard throughout this track that had me captivated. It’s almost like a wah pedal but it makes this track sound and feels like a dream in a super cool way. Sadly, it was so dreamlike that, before I knew it, the album had moved onto “Talking To You”.
You finally get to see a harder edge of this band during “Talking To You” and that made it an instant favorite of mine. Honestly, the overall sound of this track doesn’t change much from the previous songs but it’s all about the words. There’s an almost bitterness to the lyrics in this track that I just can’t get enough of. I also love the way that, although the words are a bit bitter and heartbroken, there’s something almost childlike and fun about the way they are presented. You really get to see the vocal power of this band during this track which was just another reason this song stuck out to me and was an instant favorite.
Although the edge of Present Company was really only seen in the lyrics of “Talking To You”, you get to hear it in “Believe”. The words are more staccato in this track making it feel completely different than the previous tracks but the cool, calm and collected overall theme of this band still reigns supreme. You can feel the control this band has over their sound in this song and it’s seriously an amazing thing to hear. Stylistically, this song is a bit all over the place and I feel like it gives you some more insight into the various influences that Present Company takes from. Much like “Talking To You”, “Space Turtle” continues to bring in more influences. Even though it’s the second to last track on this album, there’s something new about this track compared to the rest of the album. It’s a bit more electronic but still very controlled. I hate to be that person but it almost has a space-like element to it as the song title would suggest.
All good things must come to an end and ‘Talking On Couches’ ends beautifully with “Take Me Down”. This track really helps this album come full circle and brings back a sound that can only be called “Standard Present Company”. I loved how the previous two tracks were a bit different from the sound that this band settled into earlier in this album but then this closing track comes back in to take you back to this band’s roots.
Shows are starting to get announced up here in the Twin Cities and I am just hoping and praying that I see Present Company’s name on one of those line-ups.
My Favorite Track(s): “Forget It”; “Talking To You”
For Fans Of: Cool, Calm & Collected Music; Daydreaming; Surprises
Daydream-ability: 8 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid right next to my desk; Autumn ate her leftover dinner in the kitchen
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 8.3 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 7.2 out of 10
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