Album Review: Talking Kind – ‘It Did Bring Me Down’

Posted: by The Editor

Talking Kind’s It Did Bring Me Down opens with the lines “I just say shit / I say what’s on my mind / I never really think about it and I’m in trouble all of the time,” pointing to a kind of loose casualness that songwriter Pat Graham seems to take to heart over the record’s run. Not that this lovely collection of bite-sized tunes feels hastily thrown together, but rather Graham and his cohort of fellow Philly musicians approach the record with an anything-goes attitude, throwing thrashy punk tunes alongside heartfelt acoustic ballads. The peppy pop of openers  “Trouble,” “Under Appreciated,” and “Damn Shame,” for example, contrasts with the underwater haze of the Radioactivity cover “Trusted You” on side B. It’s this sonic mix—as well as Graham’s slowly unfolding lyrics—that makes this record so smooth on first listen and so rewarding on subsequent revisits. 

A slacker rock tune with a hypnotic pattern underneath, “Never Bored” falls in the middle of It Did Bring Me Down’s sonic spectrum. It’s also an early appearance of the warm slide guitar that shows up on the record, slipping in comfortably here along lines like “I’m skipping work and feeling great / I’m eating food and gaining weight / I’m doing lots of drugs instead of doing chores / life is better when you’re never bored.” The dirtbag appeal of the tune’s first half gets flipped to show the obvious darker side of skipping out on life, as Graham ends on “it’s kind of hard to live this way / nobody trusts what I do or say / I have a good time, but I’ve got a lonely heart / life is better when it’s falling apart.” 

That loping, wander-all-day-with-nowhere-to-be feel on “Never Bored” shows up in a more contemplative way on “Pretty Flowers” and “Trader.” “Pretty Flowers” features a charming mix of guitar sounds with a clean electric setting up a nice base melody for the vocals to play off. Another rambler, “Trader” is one of the best tunes on here, creating a haunting feeling from the steady fingerpicking on the acoustic and the yawning slide lines that become enmeshed with lyrics like “I traded in my chorus pedal for a twenty dollar bill / I traded in government distrust for a blue pill” and “I traded in my Starter jacket for a Discharge t-shirt / I traded in my Sixers jersey when they traded The Answer.” It’s an enchanting track that almost tricks you into thinking it’s a wry comment on aging until the chorus of “but I kept your love, it’ll never leave my side / the only thing I’d trade that for is being with you twice” hits, revealing that it’s more of a vulnerable love song.

Punk rock rippers “Brand New Face” and “My Truck” stick out from the rest of the tunes much in the same way the more raucous, electric-based  “Southern Man” and “When You Dance I Can Really Love” stick out amidst the hushed, candlelit piano and acoustic sounds that surround them on After The Gold Rush. “Brand New Face” builds its punk sound from a rapid rhythm section that allows some room for the acoustic to noodle a bit along the brief lead lines from a fuzzy electric while Graham urges “we can burn it down and dump this town for a brand new place / I gotta live forever, babe.” The only real rager here, “MyTruck” is a somewhat goofy diversion on the record’s second half that finds Graham listing all the ways his life improved since buying a truck (he used to hate himself, never have sex, and care too much about what other people thought…but then he bought a truck). It’s a song that almost lost me until Graham drops the line “I almost gave up and got an SUV, but now I have a truck,” which somehow might be my favorite line on the record. 

“My Truck” isn’t simply a bit of a diversion on the record, it’s a useful diversion, serving to keep the second half of It Did Bring Me Down from getting overly heavy, as the combo of “Trader” and “Trusted You” hits you right in the pit of the stomach. “My Truck” is then followed by “Small,” the tune that gives the record it’s title, as Graham flatly states “I thought seeing you would bring me down / and it did – it did bring me down.” It’s a heart-wrenching song, but one that doesn’t let you get too down, as the years of resentment are seen through the lens of old N64 games (“it’s been going on since we were kids / you never let me win in Blitz / all the fumbles, interceptions, and the late hits / I can’t let go of it”).

While Graham plays most of the instruments on It Did Bring Me Down, he’s also joined throughout by a crew of Philadelphia-based musicians, making “World of Peace”—an ode to Philly songwriter Greg Mendez—a perfect closer for this record. The final sonic departure for the record, “World Of Peace” features a crunchy rhythm guitar and intertwining lines from the lead guitar and bass, while Graham admits “me and all my friends wanna be Greg Mendez,” citing his “beautiful voice,” “pretty eyes,” and “best damn wife.” When he adds that “every song he writes is the best song you’ve ever heard,” the feeling that comes across isn’t the harbored jealousy of “oh, I wish I could write a song like that,” but rather a celebration and shared joy of seeing your friends succeed. Plus, the whole thing is a bit goofy and fun, driving home the balance of seriousness and casualness that Graham hits throughout It Did Bring Me Down

It Did Bring Me Down is available on vinyl and cassette via Lauren Records.

Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal

Aaron Eisenreich | @slobboyreject

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