The Life and Death of an American Fourtracker

John Vanderslice

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The Life and Death of an American Fourtracker Review

by Kenyon Hopkin

With three records in just two years, John Vanderslice is already proving himself to be a prolific songwriter who can put together an admirable concept record. Like Time Travel Is Lonely, The Life and Death of an American Fourtracker tells a story of solitude and, ultimately, the downfall of its protagonist. A boy obsessed with producing home recordings may not sound as sad as someone stuck in Antarctica without communication, but through Vanderslice's lyrics and wonderful arrangements, a powerful misfortune emerges. With help once again from indie rock friends such as Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, and Beulah, he shows a developing interest in peculiar sounds as well as chamber pop, most notably on "The Mansion," which blossoms into a jubilant chorus. The examination of a recording device in "Me and My 424" establishes a sense that this genuine tale isn't too far from being autobiographical. And given Vanderslice's number of hours spent in his Tiny Telephone studio, it wouldn't be a surprise.

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