|Photo by: Misra Records|
Key Tracks: “$100,” “Dog Eaten,” “On the Day”
Sometimes, following a whim can create something beautiful. Maybe it’s the lack of pressure, the organic nature in which it falls together or just notion of saying to hell with it all that allows a mere whim to turn into a work of art. Either way, the whim that resulted in Water Liars’ debut album, Phantom Limb, is one that needed to be heeded.
The nine-track album stands as an excellent example of leaving out what isn’t needed. Water Liars could’ve added more tracks, could’ve expanded on more subjects or could’ve experimented more, but instead they chose nine cohesive, tight tracks that effortlessly display their point of view and sound in a nicely bundled package, completed with a bow for garnish.
The album kicks off with the gritty “$100.” Although initially fans may think, “What have I gotten myself into?” By the end of the first minute of the intro track, the heavy riffs fade away into a ‘60s cheery, folk version of a standard The Beach Boys’ chorus. The track introduces listeners into a common pattern throughout the album: gritty chords giving way to folk rhythm. And oddly enough, it works.
As Phantom Limb transitions into the second track, listeners’ ears fall into the sweet harmonies of vocalist Justin Kinkel-Schuster. With just a guitar accompanying his simple warbling, “Dog Eaten” seems to just roll off the tip of the tongue. Everything about the track sings to the perfection of lazy afternoons filled with nostalgia. The only downside of the track lies in the difficulty of not hitting the repeat button to play it over and over again.
“Short Hair” combines ‘90s grunge with poppy ‘70s choruses skillfully. Between the dirty riffs and head-bopping rhythm, the song creates a nice balance of two opposing genres. “Rest” combines a pleasant mix of folk and country that isn’t cliché or played out.
Water Liars slow it down again with the final track, “On the Day,” a somber tune, starting with the haunting lyrics, “On the day that I die / I will see everything coming on slow / And the lies that I told / Will come creeping through my bedroom window.” In a Fitzgerald-esque way, Kinkel-Schuster continues to predict his own downfall throughout the track, admitting, “I’ll have no more excuses / For the way that I treated you.”
The only complaint could be that Water Liars stuck too closely to what they know. Phantom Limb features a distinctly consistent sound throughout the entire album, and where some people may say they mastered their craft, others may say they stuck to one note.
Overall, the album is simply enjoyable. It’s the kind of record people will put on not expecting much, then end up completely lost in the music. Although Phantom Limb serves as the band’s debut, it still shocks listeners with the level of clarity and professionalism it contains. Kinkel-Schuster’s vocals mixed with Andrew Bryant’s production and instrumental skills craft out an impressing and strong album that carves a path of success for the duo’s blossoming career.
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