Album Review: Restorations – LP5000

Posted: by The Editor

The world is changing every day, and, to hear it from Restorations, mostly for the worse. Well, maybe not for the worse, but certainly for the dumber, in the band’s own words. The band’s latest album, LP5000, is about navigating those changes, in whatever form they take. It’s appropriate, too – it’s the band’s first full-length in five years, and their first back on Tiny Engines after SideOneDummy’s restructuring. It’s a sort of homecoming for Restorations, but home seems nearly unrecognizable now.

That’s literally true on rollicking lead single “The Red Door,” about the gentrification of their home city of Philadelphia. “What remains?” asks Jon Loudon on the song’s hook. The answer seems to be nothing but Loudon’s memories: “every corner, a new name.” Of course, Philadelphia is toponymic for the United States at large; on “Melt,” Loudon speaks of a friend who’s been “scared since November, spooked since September,” and we’re left to wonder what remains of the country they thought they knew?

Loudon never specifically states what’s got his friend so worried, but he doesn’t need to. In fact, he takes care to avoid doing so, declaring that “I don’t want to hear that name again.” But in calling attention to the avoidance, it only becomes clearer. The spectre of Donald Trump haunts just about every song on LP5000 much in the same way that it seems to haunt every television screen, every tweet, every moment of life nowadays since “the results came in.” It’s inescapable, it permeates every aspect of the day, and it turns all art into a political statement even if, like in LP5000’s case, it’s less than explicit.

That subtlety is one of the album’s best traits, though. The album won’t feel dated in ten years; take out the references to cell phones and it could’ve been released during the Reagan years and would make just as much sense. Alienation, unemployment, despair, and the feeling you’re sleepwalking through your life – it’s called the American Dream for a reason, after all – these are all hallmarks of the American experience now, and Loudon captures them in all their banal horror beautifully.

Thankfully, though, he isn’t nihilistic. While he has no prescriptions of how to fix anything, he knows “there’s good left, and I’ve seen it.” At the end of closer “Eye,” which sounds like a cut off The National’s Sleep Well Beast before its thundering climactic finale, Loudon leaves the listener with a request: “just say you’ll remember me.” The only guarantor of defeat is resignation to it, and throughout LP5000, Restorations fight that resignation. And it looks like it’s worked out for them.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

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Zac Djamoos

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