I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day
Though it’s tempting to assume that vocalist Julie Doiron was unearthed by Microphones/Mount Eerie mainman Phil Elverum — in the manner of Vashti Bunyan and Devendra Banhart — to put down vocal harmonies for last year’s stellar Lost Wisdom album full of gorgeously mordant duets, the truth is that the former frontwoman for Eric’s Trip could have found her way back into the popular consciousness anytime she wanted, especially given the evidence on debut solo album I Can Wonder What You Did With Your Day. Her clear, unfettered, bell-like voice sings lines gently, conversationally like the rhythms of everyday speech and chatter, like a favorite story. Songs are simple and pastoral, more concerned with the joys of expression than world-beating, chart-chasing. Without the epic guilt and sadness that suffused Lost Wisdom, I Can Wonder lets the light in with a joyful hymnal clatter like the best Beat Happening or Helium.
The birds sing along to the simple cacophonous strums of “Living the Life of Dreams.” “Spill Your Lungs” lopes along lazily on a fuzz bass hum as Doiron whoops joyfully about “screaming her lungs out” — feels like Sebadoh or Madder Rose. The particle cloud of feedback envelops “Heavy Snow” as Doiron’s voice rings out in an ancient, spirit-like fashion, “Ohhhhh” double-tracked and triple-tracked against herself. “Glad to be Alive’s” dreamy, crackling guitar vistas courtesy of Doiron and Fred Squire, heavily echoed vocal coos — it’s all otherworldly atmospherics, the two instruments (voice and guitar) end up sounding eerily similar. Spaghetti western ambience. Lonely, that song.
The overall vibe is taut indie pop, at its best it’s nearly jazzy and droney with Doiron’s lyrics sprawling out and out like sheets of paper scattered on a wooden floor; at other times it’s just perfectly serviceable. Sometimes the tracks don’t stand out as they should. When the album becomes just another jangle-rock outing, the pace sags, and the magic fades ever so slightly. And it’s a shame. Because her voice is as welcome as sun through a kitchen window on a cold winter’s day.
Jagjaguwar Records: www.jagjaguwar.com