Chris Taylor, bassist with Grizzly Bear and producer, label owner, multi instrumentalist, et cetera, has gone all solo – which is the rage these days. And it all starts out promising enough with ‘Too Late, Too Far’ and ‘Believe’, the latter lazily propelled by spiky bass, the former oozing a lo-fi charm. By ‘The Edge’ the palette expands, and it’s beginning to sound like a Cee Lo Green demo that he might have tossed off in a cupboard in his many roomed mansion and forgotten about. It’s sweet, but it’s sexless, lacking the diva strut a cut like that should be sporting.
At times he seems to be trying to harness that spooky, spacious paranoia his cronies Department Of Eagles have mastered, but he lacks their knack with curious melody. Other times it’s of an odd pop/dubstep melange, that somehow veers off into the sound of Chris doing some DIY around the house. Elsewhere, it’s as if he’s trying to, understandably, put as much distance between himself and Grizzly Bear as his layers or vocals and clicking, rattling beats will allow.
Some tunes get lost in the claustrophobia of working on his own, with just producer George Lewis Jnr (Twin Shadow) for company, and the miniscule timescale apparently involved (written and recorded in a couple of weeks). It shows that there isn’t a room full of musicians to take his ideas and bend them, or take a melody and give time to breath itself into another form, or just take off on a tangent that may rescue some tunes from just coming across a little solipsistic.
It seems a shame that he feels he has to and obliterate the sweetness heard on ‘She Found A Way Out’ in which he strips down to voice and guitar and gives a sense of the performer and songwriter he may be, with noise on other tracks It’s almost as if he’s not entirely sure of himself, and is maybe afraid of leaving too much exposed, as if to say, it was a nice song, but let’s fuck it up, because that’s cool. It’s up there with calling your record label Terrible Records, just in case you need to get the dig in first. This isn’t a terrible record, not by a long chalk, it’s a record with an identity crisis. It takes some listening, but the potential does come through. At this point we finish with a pun about how CANT actually CAN. Then a long, scalding shower.