Built around the talents of singer and songwriter Thomas Calder, the Trouble with Templeton self-released what was essentially a solo album before making their Bella Union debut as a five-piece with 2014's Rookie. The bricolage of indie folk, synthier pop, and more direct alt-rock led to touring opportunities with the likes of Of Monsters and Men and Father John Misty. Playing more to their strengths, however, the follow-up sees the group, which slimmed down to a trio, simplify their approach. The more focused Someday, Buddy re-places the emphasis on songwriting. It takes on an almost lo-fi character with '90s Pavement-type ambling guitars and intimate lyrics as the album oscillates between hushed rumination and lyric-driven outbursts. Lead single and opener "Bad Mistake" offers both of these extremes, as introspective verses with melodic guitar lines ("All day I use truth abuse/All win, can't lose") develop into frustration with churning choruses of "I suppose everyone knows/How it feels when you're calling me out/On my tired mouth." Elsewhere, tracks like "I Want Love" and the elegant acoustic guitar-and-piano waltz "Sturdy Boy" are consistently restrained. While "Heavy Trouble" opens with a laser-like synth attack, it proves to be a fake-out when the song quickly fades into an acoustic guitar ballad with quiet, sustained keys. "Vernon" opens with an electric guitar melody and muted vocals in unison ("Just close your mouth/Don't want your input") before Calder arrives with a contrasting vocal line. The character profile soon expands to a full-band reproach. In what could be a scene out of Hitchcock's Vertigo, "1832" finds the singer full of regret as he recognizes a younger version of a lover in a painting. The band's return to basics here is effective with Calder at the helm, and results in an affecting record with consistent intensity and enough hooks to promote both catharsis and return visits.
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AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson