"Oh my God I thought I was a free man out on the road", cries Van Pierszalowski in the first five seconds of his debut record as WATERS, and he means it. The project is a rehabilitation from the breakup of his old band, Port O'Brien, or more candidly, his split with longtime girlfriend and collaborator Cambria Goodwin. But instead of Bon Iver's patented cabin-wallow, or other more depressing angles of songs with relentless space and heartbreaking pauses, Pierszalowski launches his preoccupations into orbit with the same salt-water powered pomp as his previous efforts, with spectacular results.
It's not all sunshine and daisies, but the tracks have an energy entirely separate from the usual grief-stricken sob song. Those familiar with the Port O'Brien sound, a gritty sea-shanty with distorted guitars and echoed refrains, will find similar comfort in WATERS. "For The One" and "Back To You" find themselves both scrappy and uptempo, with Pierszalowski's voice obscured almost as much as his guitars with fuzz and frugality. WATERS strikes an impressive balance in fragility and stoniness, amplified even larger on cuts like "O Holy Break Of Day" that languish in their bummed out sentiments before going hard with the head banging bridge, or "Abridge My Love", which sounds like its leaning towards positivity until it loses its mind towards the end.
Pierszalowski has a knack for writing hook-y "ooo"s, like "Out In The Light", the pre-chorus of "For The One" and the end of "If I Run", which reveals a talent for melody construction hidden behind his briny outer layer of sound. Creating two or three cohesive layers of melodic contour is a lot harder than it sounds when it comes to rock and roll. And making that sound unique and simultaneously distinct is hard enough as it is. But WATERS has the magic formula, a unique voice, a talent for hooks, and something emotionally valid to sing about. We can't wait to hear more, but for now, this is an excellent fresh start.
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MP3: "For The One"