Things have been weird in my life lately. Call it a mid-life crisis, call it whatever you want, I have really been slacking on pretty much everything but that ends today (and comes with a drastic haircut later on today). So let’s kick this weekend off right with some new music. Given my current state of a mid-life crisis, Self-Help’s album ‘If I Left the Country…’ really caught my eye so let’s see if this brings me the energy I so desperately need along with a little push to get out from this rut I’ve found myself in.
I was head over heels in love as soon as “Whippits” took over my speakers. There’s something beachy and free about the guitar riff that kicks this track off and continues throughout. Even though overall, it’s a light and fresh vibe, there’s something weird in the line of notes that the guitar is supplying. There’s almost a dissonance among the pure sun-drenched line of notes that I actually found a sense of comfort in. Given my current state of mind, I heard it as stumbled throughout the track just like we can all stumble throughout life at times. That’s all I’m facing right now, just a stumble.
“Infection!” kicks off with an infectious bassline before the rest of the band comes in with that sunshine vibe again. There’s something about the vocals in this track that reminds me of Fidlar but the overall mood of the track is much more indie-rock. “McDonald’s” follows up “Infection!” as a bit of a palate cleanser. At under a minute long, this track flies by and, before I knew it “Full Up Cloud” had taken over my speakers and my heart. Again, with the super chill vibe that Self-Help clearly does so well, this track brings a beautiful hint of tenderness to the table. From the lyrics to the way they are presented, there is just something heart-warming about this track but also a little bit muddled which, again, is speaking to my soul right now. It’s not hard to find all of the parts in this track but something about the vocals seems to get overpowered by the instrumentation. I feel like this just adds to the overall emotion of this track and I loved it.
“I Love You Jack” is a song about a cat (if taken literally which I did) so clearly this was an instant favorite of mine. Although I’m a sucker for songs about love and love lost, it was fun to hear a track about the unconditional love you show a cat, and, with my love life having fallen apart last night, this track came over me like a giant hug that I so desperately needed. I was so lost in “I Love You Jack” that I was a bit surprised as the album moved onto “So Long I Love You”. This track is unlike anything else I had heard on this album while still being clearly that of Self-Help. There’s something a bit jazzy about this track as the words “So long farewell my love, so love, I love” whirl around for the minute and a half that this track lasts. Another palate cleanser like “McDonald’s”, I was excited to see what this was leading up to.
“Wit” is another super short track at just a second over a minute but there’s an edge in this track that I hadn’t noticed about Self-Help prior to this track but now couldn’t get enough of. I don’t know if it’s that it wasn’t there previously or if “Wit” just brings it to the forefront, regardless, as “If I Left The Country…” started to play, I found myself searching for that edge. That edge definitely comes out in this track but in a more subtle way. There’s that sound of dissonance that I heard in the opening track but it seems to really come to fruition in this track and I loved it. It’s still a super chill vibe in this track but the instrumentation brings that edge to the table that I just can’t get enough of.
“Doodled Smile” is another track on this album that, like “Full Up Cloud”, brings the tenderness that Self-Help does so well to the forefront. There’s something echoey about the vocals in this track that make it a dazzling track. There’s also something a bit retro feeling about everything going on in this song that makes it stand out from the rest of the album. The way it leads into “Birds of a Feather” is perfect. Although I liked the edge I felt in “If I Left The Country…”, I equally loved the carefree and almost county-fair sound I was getting in “Birds of a Feather”. What do I mean by “County-fair sound”? I honestly don’t know how to explain it. This is just one of those things you will have to listen to before you judge me for my super vague description.
This album ends with “Farewell of Whatever” which really caps off this entire journey in a perfect way. You get everything laid out previously on this album from the tenderness of “Full Up Cloud” to the beachy vibes of “Whippits” to the words from “So Long I Love You”. All albums have to end whether you want them to or not so thankfully this one ends on a high note.
There’s something artsy about Self-Help that I can’t quite put my finger on. Sure, you could call them indie-pop but there’s something almost mathy about some of the guitar parts and something a little more alternative about some of the vocals. Regardless of how you want to categorize this band, I think the one word we can all agree on is “great”. This is an interesting album that absolutely deserves to be heard.
My Favorite Track(s): “I Love You Jack”
For Fans Of: Sunny Vibes; Indie-Rock With A Twist
Mosh-ability: 3 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Both cats slept upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
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