Jun 24, 2021
By Carlo Thomas
Turns out the mainstay electronic producer and musician Matthew Dear always had something of an alternate history up his sleeve. Preacher’s Sigh & Potion: The Lost Album captures Dear in 2008 and 2009, when he was working on guitar-centric tunes as he alternated between Detroit and his home state of Texas. Over a decade later, Dear has finally released the project, which blends his established techno skills with his creative takes on space rock, alt-country, and acoustic ballads alike.
Take “Muscle Beach,” which opens with a twangy guitar and is soon carried by a slinky barnhouse beat and handclaps. Listeners may be reminded of Beck on jittery songs such as “Crash and Burn,” with its bouncing guitar hooks and static vocal distortions. Meanwhile, Dear’s haunting vocals on the quick and hushed “Never Divide” sound like a possessive take on Justin Vernon. These and other experimentations make Preacher’s Sigh & Potion a provocative album that is unlike anything else in Dear’s discography.
Nevertheless, the album’s 11 songs are nonetheless marked with Dear’s style of lyrical dark humor and impeccable sense as a producer. The kaleidoscopic “Sow Down” features charming guitar strums and chirping electronic effects that belie Dear’s foreboding lyrics (“You-You put me in this corner/And you-you will pay the price/I-I will be the lion”). The pulsing minimalist house track “Hikers Y” captures Dear’s tongue-in-cheek side with him offering variations of the line “I’m through with all the conversation” throughout. He offers something similar on the acoustic track “Heart to Sing,” yet the song’s distinct off-kilter edge prevents any feeling of repetitiveness. Album highlight “All Her Fits” is two tracks in one, starting as a soft mid-tempo track before giving way to a brief piano instrumental. Yet just as soon, the song comes back to life, transformed thanks to distinct chord changes. The acoustic guitar plucking and bright keys evoke feelings of warmth and tenderness, even if Dear’s words are anything but.
While Preacher’s Sigh & Potion: The Lost Album isn’t a newfound direction per se, the album gives a new perspective on Dear’s two-decade career. Dear himself said that “listening to these songs reminds me to not think so much,” something that can plague musicians as they get older. His latest is proof that artists can always learn from their younger selves, to take their alternate histories and make them part of their present. (www.matthewdear.bandcamp.com)
Author rating: 7.5/10
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