Daniel Romano

Modern Pressure

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The seventh studio long-player from the mercurial Canadian pop/country crooner and the follow-up to 2016's Mosey (Romano averages about an album a year), Modern Pressure has been described as a "collection of spiritual songs" by its creator. More Walt Whitman than C.S. Lewis, the 12-track set harbors some lofty ambitions, with the Ontario native explaining the overall arc of the record as "the sound of the moment reverberating into the future. Like the music of the spheres, these melodies and verses are both pertinent and timeless." Heady as that statement may be, there's some truth in it, as Romano is a deft architect of knotty indie power pop dressed up in countrypolitan clothing -- think Ezra Furman by way of Van Dyke Parks and Lee Hazlewood. His propensity for verbosity is often rewarded by moments of pure thought distillation ("react at your leisure, modern pressure" is particularly effective), and the arrangements, while notably wily, are always in the service of the main melody, adding frenetic bits of color, kitchen sink samples, and offbeat blasts of rhythm with the mad joy of Jackson Pollock at his least self-destructive. As busy as things get on Modern Pressure, the less kinetic moments are afforded ample time to shine, with some of the LP's strongest bit arriving via breezy, sunset-ready, two-lane highway-worthy jams like "Roya" and "Impossible Green." There are the occasional lo-fi moments that creep in and reduce the efficacy of the LP's overarching retro tube-driven warmth -- the factory orchestral bursts that pepper the otherwise outstanding title track come off as more distracting than clever -- but Romano remains such an unpredictable and compelling presence throughout, that it's easy to forgive the occasional misstep.

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