[ONE-MAN POP BAND] Sometimes a little love gets you further than a lot of polish. So while it sometimes sounds like the technology on Quiet Countries' third disc, The Ancient Motorcade—loop pedals, drum machines, synthesizers and the like—has exploded out of Leb Borgerson's control, his longtime fascination with distorted beats and endless overdubs does lend the disc an air of impulsive excitement that can't be denied.
There are examples of this right off the bat: Opener "In All Directions" is so purposefully overdriven that it makes nice headphones sound like shitty car-door speakers, but it pulses with disco-punk energy and Borgerson's doubled-up vocals trace his nimble guitar lines with an infectious enthusiasm. Similarly, sections of "Impressed" sound like Linkin Park covering Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street," but the sheer ambition of the piece is still weirdly breathtaking. Hearing Borgerson's new live band tackle either cut should prove fascinating.
Because Borgerson's twisting narratives—lyricism may be his greatest strength—are often set against a digitized backdrop, it's hard not to recall the Postal Service's 2003 disc Give Up after a first listen to Motorcade, but the Quiet Countries godhead often trades flash for economy, as on the largely acoustic "Lives in Repeat" and the slow-building "I Went Looking." In fact, one doesn't get the impression that Quiet Countries is trying to mimic anyone at all: The Ancient Motorcade seems informed more by Borgerson's personal experiences, and his love of the recording process, than by any particular sub-genre of pop, which begets a sound that drifts continually in and out of form. When he's particularly inspired on both the songwriting and instrumental fronts, the listener gets gems like the woozy "Almost Obscene" and the lullabic should-be-single "Go To Bed." And when his muse wanders to less compelling territory (see the title track and "Winter Armor")? Well, at least you can still hear those gears turning.
SEE IT: Quiet Countries play the Woods on Thursday, June 9. 8 pm. $8. 21+.