Artist: Talk Less, Say More
Release Date: 2014 Feb 09
Genre: Pop Rock / Shoe Gaze
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Label: Records On Ribs
When I reviewed England Without Rain last year, I hailed it as one of the “must have releases of 2013”. Little did I realize until later that it was actually a release from 2011 / 2012. That was because I obtained the release through an aggregation site that had added it to their collection last year, so the date didn’t reflect the original release date but the date it was added to their collection. But that slip up doesn’t change my feelings about the album: “I would buy this album, even if it wasn’t available as a free download.” Now Matthew Jennings is back with Talk Less, Say More – Violent. This new release is the second portion of a trilogy of releases TLSM started with England Without Rain.
Like England Without Rain, this release maintains it interesting usage of instrumentation: pedal steel guitar, fretless and slap bass, multi-tracked horns and guitars, vocoder, just to name a few. But also, several of the interesting instruments from England Without Rain make an appearance as well. It’s a definitely a credit when an artist is able to expand their sonic palette without losing the core of the identity, and Matthew Jennings has done just that with this release.
The writing on this release musically is every bit the equal of its predecessor. Excellent pop hooks, some surprising twists, and a level of musical invention rarely afforded to pop / rock artists these days. This recording adds a new layer of dynamics over the previous. Jennings uses a wider range of instruments and textures to support compositions that reflect a wider range of expression. Beyond that is, of course, the level of engineering and production that deeply impressed me with all of Talk Less, Say More releases.
Where England Without Rain was a more introspective release, from the opening: “I feel like making a record / of everything I’m feeling / Being careful not to be / too revealing” we knew that we were in for an album that was self-referential and reflective in nature.
This new release is still an inward reflection, however the focus of these reflections has shifted slightly. Instead of focusing on the internalized feelings, this is more about the feelings of relationships, and chance encounters. And, as always, there is wonderful word craft around some of these subjects, such as (from ‘Oh Hi’):
Follow the feeling
From abstraction to a notion
Of a strange unnamed emotion
Follow the feeling
From distraction to devotion
You moved just like the ocean
There isn’t a song that doesn’t have something in it lyrically that makes you sit up and take notice. Vocal arrangements are also as important as any of the instrumental arrangements in carrying the words across with the right amount of emotion or detachment.
And yet, at then end of release that takes you on a roller coaster of emotions, like the lyrics of ‘Oh Hi’, I was left wondering: what is next? This release was definitely the follow up to the previous release, and Matthew Jennings was about to sufficiently up TLSM’s to a level that maybe be difficult to surpass. Then I started listening to release again, and again, and then I put on England Without Rain and Violent together, trying to see if I could find a clue as to what was next.
I have no clue. But I will say, I am now anticipating the next release. I know it’s going to be a while. Recordings as excellent as ‘England Without Rain’ and ‘Violent’ don’t just appear out of thin air. They take a lot of work and craftsmanship to achieve, but the anticipation is going to kill me. (Just kidding.)