The Lone Gunman
Ever since my plunge into indie rock five years ago, Idaho has occupied a constant placement in the “recommended if you like…” category, but has somehow managed to elude contact directly. The Lone Gunman is the band’s tenth full-length, and after numerous personnel changes (only multi-instrumentalist Jeff Martin remains) and musical direction shifts, what I’m presented with sounds less like the slowcore majesty I’d been expecting and more like somber keys/drum machine experimentation. Martin can’t really be faulted for the desire to swap in 2/4 time for something a bit more lively — even Low dropped the crystalline fragility this year. What’s surprising is how well the album flows from its lyric-driven ballads to its abstract ambient moments. It’s probably the jaunty, borderline contrived drum machine beats that provide the audible shove in the arrangements the minor piano chords try to pin down; the warm tones of Martin’s Wurlitzer don’t hurt either. Supposedly hidden in the subtext is an album influenced by the current, uncertain state of the world, the war in the middle east and a general dislike for the current administration. If these sources had any sway over the songwriting process, it was only on the periphery. The Lone Gunman is about personal, melancholic optimism, determined less by worldly events and more by the successes and failures of everyday life.