Timewellspent – S/T

It’s about that time, boys and girls. You know what I mean, of course: you’re walking along and suddenly a cool breeze whips out of nowhere, stirring a previously unnoticed drift of leaves out of their hiding place in the gutter. Yep, fall is coming. But it’s not completely here, so don’t break out the cardigans just yet: there’s still plenty of time to enjoy Timewellspent’s debut album, a record firmly caught in that nebulous middle ground between summer and fall. While its upbeat strumming and pretty harmonies seem to convey summer through their very warm cheeriness, the touches of icy synths and sweeping strings seem to hint that fall is just around the corner, so don’t get too comfortable in your Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian shirts, either.
It’s an interesting way to construct a record, really. Timewellspent has clearly taken a page from the Guided By Voices songbook, specifically the chapter titled: “Never Make a Song Any Longer Than it Absolutely Has to Be.” What results from this strategy is a record filled with one-to-two minute (and sometimes shorter) sugary pop confections balanced out with longer, more cohesive statements of musical purpose. They’re all songs, regardless of how short they may be, but some allow Timewellspent to showcase its signature sound (which is wholly lovely) to a greater extent.

“I Want to Tell You” is perhaps the first “real” song (having been preceded by a 30-second intro). The song’s gauzy harmony and great guitar work seem to hint at a slight jazz influence without ever going off the deep end into the genre, and it is an even nicer introduction to “I Know You,” which uses twinkly synths and dusky slide guitar to wonderful effect, creating a hazy atmosphere with enough space for the listener to dive in and swim around. “Anyone to Be” uses a faraway piano (lifted from the interlude before) and more whispered/sung vocals to create an atmosphere of melancholy.

The master would be proud of “Probably, ” a track that dives straight into Bacharach territory with a sweetly sassy horn section and light, jazzy backbeat that’s augmented with some upbeat piano playing. What follows is possibly the greatest three-song suite I’ve heard on a pop album in awhile. “Millionaire,” “Sitting by the Window,” and “Letting Go” all flow into each other without pause, and though they’re all completely different stylistically, they’re completely perfect when paired with each other. “Minor Poet” is one of the longer pieces, opening with reverbed strumming and that great slide guitar from earlier. The track soon develops into a lovely little pop song that manages to combine all the techniques from other songs and interludes into one song. For those looking for respite from the unending haze (and I mean that in the best way), “Effigy” might be your best bet, a nice tune that features some buzzing organ and surfy guitar.

It’s rare that a debut release be some cohesively constructed, but when you do happen to get one that seems to be as well-thought-out as it is well-written, it’s a real treat, something you don’t mind listening to over and over again. I’d call it time well spent, indeed.