Librarians released its second full-length album March 9, and I know my review is overdue, but this edition is one for the permanent collection anyway. Ryan Hizer (vocals, guitar, bass), Trey Curtis (vocals, guitar), Kyle Vass (bass, guitar), and Billy Parsons (drums) of Morgantown, West Virginia have a sweet little record here in Present Passed.
The album gets heads bobbing with the drummy, bassy first track, “Marilla Park.” Well, everything’s falling apart and somebody’s laughing — the disconnect between peppy music and depressing lyrics calls to mind The Cure with a bit less hairspray, fewer Quaaludes, and a slap in the face of drama. Don’t stretch your neck out just yet, because this isn’t the typical good-first-track, crappy-other-tracks album you might be expecting from these relative unknowns. “Candy Season” and “Wait & See” require double-time up-and-down motions of the head, and you’re really not going to get a break until the last track’s over. Even though “Present Passed” is the dreamiest on the record, that drum beat is still not finished with you.
Vocals are sort of hushy, a good contrast to the bounce and dance of the guitars, bass, and the synth that takes center stage on “Hard to Unwind.”
“So What?” rolls in with a heartbeat bass (I’m liking it) which complements the lyrics this time: “You fall in love with everyone / So what?… / Like a universe without surprise / Nobody lives and nobody dies.” Love, living, and dying, yeah those things scream fat heartbeat bassline.
“Kid Stuff” may be about pretty, loose girls who spend too much time with the wrong guys, but at least somebody knows how to act right, damn it. “Don’t look foolish / Stay healthy / Whatever you do spell all the words right / Look intelligent / Whatever you do say all the right things.”
These guys know something about the takeaway moment. Last track, “Present Passed,” is my favorite. “I want to write a good song / I want to be the drink in your shot glass / I want to see how long we can make the sip last.” That’s just pure sexy.
Present Passed is a little bit Modest Mouse only easy on the quirk, maybe Depeche Mode on an angry night. Check it out.