Album Review: Comprador — ‘Important’

Posted: by The Editor

It’s not often, nowadays, that an artist’s words can take your breath away. Looped letters on a page, laid overtop an instrumental, innocently coiling around your sternum with every intention of leaving a bruise. So, when one does stumble upon a musician with lyrics that stir their lungs and jumpstarts their heart, it’s profound to be reminded of what creates a great artist, and that is their art. Their lyrical prowess, their ability to meld words into melody, and their story-telling that evokes a range of emotions. It’s rare and it’s fragile—something that should be handled with care and duly noted. And, when a record drops that has prolific commentary scattered throughout its sonic and written direction, it’s a godsend from a music scene that is continuously grasping for authenticity and artistry. It’s a godsend that comes in the form of Comprador’s lead-singer and lyricist, Charlie D’Ardenne.

Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, psychedelic rock band Comprador leaves nothing to wake on their latest studio album, Important. A group that’s never shied away from their sonic liberation, their newest record seamlessly melts the landscape of past projects into one cohesive body of work. Important boomerangs from fuzzed out alternative rock, to bedroom pop, to the haze of psych-rock work together in creating a project that acts more like a spiritual narrative than a simple musical release. This range is only further impacted by the lyrical mind that has, seemingly, always been a captivating trait in Comprador’s repertoire. 

Unlike most artists who are lucky to have even one song grip their audience, Charlie D’Ardenne has a way of reflecting that in entire bodies of work. It’s apparent that lyrical content is a driving force for D’Ardenne as a musician, diving into his intricate words that ebb and flow throughout his art. His writing is literary, but it hurts like poetry. It’s this ability to masquerade melancholy lyrics in Comprador’s hushed and serene musicality that ultimately rages Important on. 

For example, the opener of the record, “Bike Rack On,” transcends through a dream-like warp that drowns out the low murmurs of words that rise and fall for almost five minutes. This sets the tone as the rest of Important voyages through a similar vapor. The second track, “Look Doubtful” uses laidback yet ear-catching guitar riffs and grunge-soaked vocals as D’Ardenne waves through religion, detailing a more pessimistic view with lyrics like, “In heaven we cast our thoughts out of our heads like anglers’ nets / God is a fish with a death wish unable to die / He throws himself into our lines.” 

“When it’s Over,” however, journeys through as a killer alt-rock ballad focusing more on airy vocals that stress their vulnerability over a past relationship. Inflicting the pain on himself, the moody track narrates a self-reflection of not deserving his partner, ending with a wistful, “I want you to know that you’re not really missing out.” “Get Our Hopes Up” follows the same foundation, yet it’s in the plucking of the strings and gloom of the keys against isolated vocals that elevates the song. With a brooding voice, D’Ardenne’s well-spun lyrics only cause a greater impact with, “Do you and I dream? Electric sheep shorn / Knitting tapestries with imagined yarn / Oracular eye motion adjourned” that sound like a melancholic lullaby to a lover. 

“Nauseating Sight” uses contrast as it is one of the only tracks on Important that has a rambunctious attitude. Bolstered by thrashing guitars and an angst-ridden theme, it’s distinguished sonic appeal makes it a clear standout on the album. But, it’s in the closer, “Voice Coil Unwound” that evokes the most emotional impression. Using predominantly acoustic instrumentals, the raw edge of desperation in communication and speaking one’s mind is paralleled in both lyrics and sound. The frustrating “I wish you’d think out loud. My voice coil’s unwound” that saunters out perfectly executes the defeated exhaustion that envelopes a, seemingly, budding relationship. D’Ardenne’s framing of words, even though it is the shortest song on the album, immerses the listener in the scene, patiently rooting him on as they watch the track play-out through the brush of the woods. 

Philadelphia-based Comprador explores their strengths with Important. Running through their gamut of influences—the haze of psych, cracks of alternative-rock, and lighter tones of bedroom pop, the record manages to piece together its disparate influences into a singular vision. Laid underneath refreshingly poetic lyrics, it’s difficult not to be instantly taken by the group’s latest effort and their endless potential. Comprador are a truly overlooked and underrated talent, and with Important, it’s about time that changes.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Hope Ankley / @Hope_ankleknee

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