Fa uns dies que els vaig descobrir a un blog dels que segueixo normalment i me varen impactar tant que he decidit fer una entrada al nou disc que presenten aquest mes de març i una altra al seu anterior treball més directe i impactant si tan vols que aquest segon. Si hem de dir alguna cosa en negatiu d'ells seria que per definir la seva música ens hem de remetre a vaques sagrades com els Yo la Tengo, els Sonic Youth o els Galaxie 500 i tots els grups posteriors per on ha passat en Wareham. Els falta una miqueta més de personalitat per acabar de confirmar-se com a grup de culte, però en duen camí.
"Soft Opening" conté temes que no desentonarien gens en qualsevol disc dels grups anomenats abans i fins i tot, en serien peces destacades. Tots els fans d'aquests "grupets" no deixeu passar de banda aquest disc ni el que l'acompanyarà immediatament, el seu primer treball "Self-Titled". M'ho agraireu internament.
Els de Pitchford han dit d'ells coses com les següents:
Posse does not have some kind of marvelous origin story, there is no blood oath or volatile, undeniable chemistry. The songwriting duo of Paul Wittmann-Todd and Sacha Maxim met during a show at a Seattle lesbian bar and decided to collaborate because the former "didn't have a lot of other options." On their sophomore album Soft Opening, Wittmann-Todd and Maxim exhibit that same kind of non-committal camaraderie, as their vocals do not harmonize or intertwine or do battle; most of the time, they exchange one-sided conversations, acknowledging each other and going about their business. Every instrument is given enough space to do whatever it wants as long as it cleans up after itself. It's the musical equivalent of roommates who randomly linked up on Craigslist and totally worked things out. Whatever qualities this might suggest in Posse as people lend a lived-in bumminess to Soft Opening, imbuing its no-frills, rumpled indie rock with a discernible point of view and more importantly, a personality.
That’s important, because this is really no-frills indie rock. The most notable studio tricks Posse employ are a fuzz pedal, a tambourine, and the occasional echo on Maxim’s vocals. Either Wittmann-Todd is playing an extremely avant-garde solo during a portion of “Jon” or they simply didn’t feel like overdubbing a flubbed take. On the up-tempo numbers, Posse recall a rainy day Real Estate, a less bookish Galaxie 500, or Yo La Tengo driven by a equivocal, platonic friendship. On slower-than-slowcore “Talk", they’re all but mesmerized by their own torpor, situated somewhere in between Pavement’s “Stop Breathing” and Built to Spill’s “Cleo” in terms of uncomfortably numb guitar heroism. Similar to those bands, Posse make music that is lo-fi without sounding cheap, purposeful minimalism that can sound strangely expansive: Maxim and Wittmann-Todd’s vocals are barely projected without being off-key, and the guitar leads have an effortless melodicism whenever they take over. Even if most of these songs could be strummed out from a beanbag chair, Posse always add a chord that fancies things up just enough.
Posse describe their sound as “delay pedals and 27 years of disappointment”, which may not be factually correct; you hear a lot more of the latter than the former, and the second line of opener “Interesting Thing No. 2” is “You turned 25, so many things you haven’t tried.” It’s theoretically sound all the same, since Soft Opening’s self-deprecation is a big part of its appeal. For all of its invocations of 80s and 90s A-listers, Soft Opening is an of-the-moment record in the way it aligns with the sort of sitcoms that dominate the viewing habits of people Posse’s age: the actors involved are presented as friends, yet they don’t really seem to like each other all that much.
In the case of Soft Opening, nearly every song is a subtly hilarious metacommentary on some sort of communication breakdown. Maxim sings, “I know you’re gonna talk through this and not care,” and you can easily visualize the shoulder shrug, the eye-rolling, the internal defeat she anticipates with this interaction. With every repetition, it cuts deeper and deeper as an insult: you are someone who simply can’t handle sitting in silence with their own feelings. A song later on “Shut Up”, a drunk and bored Wittmann-Todd fantasizes about a time when he’s going to work up the nerve to tell someone to shut their yap, even if it’s himself: “I’m gonna watch you go outside now/ And make a stupid face/ And shut up."
And yet, none of this venting comes off as mean-spirited. In fact, most of Soft Openingunwinds with the casual bonhomie of three post-work beers over darts; the deleterious effects are minimal compared to the necessary release and bonding. And hell, if Posse seem to have a strange enjoyment for each other’s company in spite of it all, well, it’s because the outside world doesn’t have that much more to offer. “Cassandra B.” relates a date between overeducated, underfunded Seattlites as they down too much vodka, go to an “intelligent rap” show (“A bald white guy/ With a mumu onstage”) and lie about reading Willa Cather books that were bought at college and promptly shelved. As with every dryly hysterical line on Soft Opening, there’s never any “pitchiness”; it’s never trying to be any more droll and absurd than life itself.
Despite the litany of disappointments, misunderstandings, and aimlessness befalling the narrators in these songs, Soft Opening is a record of oddly stoic presence. For one thing, the austere sonics and plainspoken lyrics ensure that nothing gets glossed overso it's a tough record to tune out. But also, Posse sound exactly like the band they want to be—you don’t sense any musical ambition unmet, any word misplaced. It’s a modest record done confidently, enough to end with a six-minute guitar workout based around the lyric that perfectly encapsulates Soft Opening’s comforting sadness, its satisfied misanthropy: “Don’t touch me/ I’m in my zone.”