The New Year

The New Year

(Touch and Go; 2008)

By Chet Betz | 12 December 2008

Bedhead: man, what a great band. I swear, when I listen to them I have to laugh at the “slow-core” label thrown at them. Slow? These guys make time stand still. But they don’t do it with idling, they do it through passionate intricacy. There’s an elegance to their devotion for this singular slowness. It’s like other kinds of music don’t exist and that’s okay; the Kadane brothers are still gonna meticulously explore the duets of their clean guitar lines and maybe Tench Coxe will help and that’ll just triple the non-threat. Everything is patient, everything is pure. Everything builds steadily to satisfying climaxes where the progressions are permitted to unfurl away from a new plateau. You won’t have a five minute opener that swells to a couple muffled cymbal crashes because Bedhead aren’t that coy. They are saintly and they reward discipleship with revelations. They could never be compared to Death Cab for Cutie.

Or Ben Folds. Energy is always present but always subdued with lyrics slight in their pageantry—more significant in how they guide song structures. There are no grungy bass riffs accompanying a whine that “the door opens / and all hell blows in.” At the same time there’s nothing as dull and lacking in musical tension as staid piano figures, brushed drums, and talking about things one doesn’t mind not experiencing. And there certainly won’t be three more similarly dull tracks in a record’s second half; Bedhead likely won’t sing a song about pulling up their socks, walking around the neighborhood, and making rhymes like “the majestic / the domestic.” There’s nothing as frenetic-slash-messy as a song that sounds like Weezer because Bedhead never need to sound like Weezer, they sound like Bedhead. But if Bedhead were to disband and its two core members form a group that’d one day put out a song which sounded like Weezer, they’d probably call it “The Idea of You.” “You” being Weezer. And in Weezeresque fashion they’d put this song on a self-titled record with a solid block of color (maybe ugly burnt orange) on the cover.

One great thing this post-Bedhead group would also do, though, would be to include on the same scattered album one great track where a pretty standard acoustic strum gives way to a chiming guitar and pounding drum hits and a second guitar that casually yet carefully incorporates a variation on the chord progression before a veritable cascade of shimmering textures bliss out my headphones. It’d probably be called “Seven Days and Seven Nights” and would remind me of just how much I like Bedhead with all their godlike restraint and the way they eke out teaspoon measures of beauty on the long and winding path towards utter release, drops of nectar in place of the traditional bread crumbs. It’d be enough for me to review this post-Bedhead’s disappointing third album so I could recount former glories and hope for their full return in some brighter future for the band. And at the end of this review I would declare:

But this is the New Year. And there’s plenty of Bedhead in the New Year. Just not enough, unfortunately, in The New Year.