FULL TIME HOBBY 16/6/2016
A sweet and touching album of pondering, easy-going ballads. Try Wonder, the third track, as it ambles around, glad that Michael has no job, nothing to do, nowhere to go – he can spend all day wondering about you. The sound is a fuzzy take on the lazy pop ballad, fusing the fuzzy drum bash of Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin with the shuffle of Lee Hazlewood. There is a dreamy LA vibe to this, something of the Tim Buckley attitude, if not the perfect pipes. Nau’s voice is reedier but suits delivering the songs in a human and real way.
Smooth is the order of the day as songs swing and click coolly by. The album is soulful without ruffling its hair and the West Coast feel belies its origins in Vermont. The only exceptions are when quirky synths turn up on Scumways and Scatter, which are gently indie and off-kilter but not enough to rock the boat. Michael is on a dreamy journey and crooning his thoughts as he goes, tunefully but without ever reaching a hook. I suspect that is deliberate; a big, singalong chorus would startle and he wants to woo you gently.
You have a choice, letting the mellow vibe and voice wash over you and lull you, or to listen carefully to the lyrics which hide a certain sharpness that evades the first listen. The warm vintage sound is part of the disguise for the lyrics and a welcome one, this acknowledges echoes of the past without being retro. If you like Harry Nillson or Richard Hawley, you should be trying this on for size.