Ignoring for a moment that when I think of Michael Cera and music, my thoughts immediately spring to him warbling "These Eyes"
or him staging an incredibly uncomfortable duet of "Afternoon Delight" with Portia de Rossi on Arrested Development
, the paradigm of teenage/young adult awkwardness just released a free lo-fi folk record on his Bandcamp page
. And while absolutely no one on the planet was clamoring for a Michael Cera folk album, the surprising truth is that the record has an undeniable charm, and it's enjoyable for reasons other than the fact that it comes from the world's biggest fan of Les Cousins Dangereux
The record, true that
, is quiet. Beyond the zig-zagging tone and surprising breadth of style, that will be the first thing you notice. The record was recorded at Cera's home, and it has the lo-fi fuzz of an early Ariel Pink record. You need a good pair of headphones to listen to this record, and you need to have them set to full-blast. But if you take the time to properly listen to the record, you may find yourself lost in its sparse, low-key embrace.
And sparse is another key word to use when you listen to the record. Although there are clear influences of jazz on tracks like "Of a Thursday" or classic spirituals on the Blaze Foley cover "Clay Pigeons," the album is mostly free of production flourishes. It's Cera's voice and whatever instrument he's playing on that particular track. Rarely is any sort of multi-instrumental sonic approach utilized ("Clay Pigeons" a slight exception). But, it adds an elegant simplicity in an era of modern music where there are so many things happening at once, that you seldom feel like you're experiencing the entirety of an artist's intent as you struggle to focus on one of many disparate elements of a song.
No one is saying that Michael Cera is going to be the next Conor Oberst or Ben Howard. The album has nothing resembling a radio ready single, and for those who need their albums to be for lack of a better word, "busier," true that
's languid pace will frustrate you to no end. But, for those with an ear for raw and unpolished folk, it will take one listen to the album's standout track "Ruth" to know that Cera is a surprisingly refined lyricist with an ear for a subtly effective melody.