Restorations – self-titled 12″

Restorations coverThe press release for Philly’s Restorations’ self-titled LP paraphrases reviews of an older EP, stating that the band make music for “grown-up punks”. This is kind of amusing. Firstly, old punks don’t die. They just smell that way. Secondly, punk’s not dead, but Reagan is. Thirdly, “grown-up” is a child’s phrase, surely?

But it is also a pretty fair description, in some ways. Restorations are identifiably emerging from a punk rock tradition, even if their music spreads its wings more broadly than these origins might allow. Perhaps it’s just in the choice of chords, or the guitar tone, or the gruff lead vocals that remind me, somehow, of a wearier, more relaxed Mike Hale from Gunmoll – or perhaps just any No Idea singer with a whiskey & cigarette tone and a love of country*.

Regardless, the eight songs on offer here are restrained, drawn-out, and aim for a very textural approach – by which I mean their strengths are teased out of a song’s whole fabric rather than derived from killer hooks. Still, we’re not straying into full-on post-rock territory; there are instrumental moments but plenty of vocals throughout, and the songs are mostly structured around traditional verse-chorus patterns.

Things are kicked off with a gentle, steadily building song in the form of ‘NonLocality’: with drums that recall rather than resemble a marching beat and simple, repeated vocals – with harmonising back vocals – its rhythm has a faintly hypnotic air. Towards the songs end things loosen up a bit with delay effects introduced, including some analogue delay that goes a little crazy (which is my favourite thing about analogue delay pedals; the guitarist in my band abuses it regularly to entertaining effect).

Elsewhere ‘Canadian Club’ throws in some swagger, the guitar, bass and drums utilising a simple and gentle hook to pull you along; lead guitar is present but very spare, as with the minimalist keyboard work. The song goes off the rails towards the end, which initially seems like a bit of a shame, but once the dissolving feedback fades and you hear the band laughing with each other, it instead feels fun.

Throughout Restorations length there are plenty of warm, gentle moments; soothing rather than abrasive, atmospheric rather than immediate, convivial rather than confrontational. Certainly it touches on few of what might be considered the ‘traditional characteristics’ of punk, but you might equally note many of the offshoot sub-genres that span out of punk also eschew abrasiveness, immediacy or confrontation. In fact, describing this as “music for grown-up punks” does it a disservice. It might be better to say that punks with broad tastes are likely to enjoy this, as it is, simply, good music.

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* Oh, it turns out that Restorations’ singer fronted Jena Berlin!  So there you go, fact fans: A Fact.

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