Seattle-based musician Noah Gundersen is all set to release his fourth album ‘Lover’ on 23 August. Sharing a title with Taylor Swift’s album due on the same day completely by accident, the records finds Noah talking about love, failure, drugs, sex, age, regret and ultimately finding peace.
The album opens with recent single ‘Robin Williams’, an emotive and atmospheric piece with dark lyrics about anxiety and how anyone can struggle with mental health: ‘When I think of Robin Williams at the end of his rope, it makes no difference what you’re making, the reaper makes the final joke’. There’s also a touch of black humour as the song signs off with Noah sighing about how ‘no one buys records anymore’. ‘Crystal Creek’ follows with a question about finding a place in the world (‘Is this everything you wanted now it’s everything you had?’) as it flits in to a largely unoccupied space between Grandaddy, The 1975 and The XX. The title track also has an electronic hum throughout as Noah discusses needing a mother but not a father: ‘I need an ocean to carry my mood. I need your love. I don’t need no one else around’.
Gently swaying piano and strums signal the start of album centrepiece ‘Watermelon’. Noah looks at his own actions and the troubles he’s experienced in his life (‘It’s not easy to please me, I know. I wish that I could give you some good news’) before eventually deciding to change tack and focus on all the positives: ‘This hole in my chest won’t let me rest so I’m trying my best to fill it with you’. Some songs find Noah dipping into Springsteen-style troubadour storytelling, especially on ‘Lose You’ where he claims ‘I don’t wanna give you up. I don’t want to lose you now, now that we’re falling, I want to follow you down’ and ‘Wild Horses’: ‘It’s OK if you don’t have the answers, the questions remain the same’.
‘Out of Time’ has a bass-led intro that leads into eerie psychedelia with plenty of falsetto: ‘You’re in my head. You’re in my bed. Is this ever going to be over?, while ‘Audrey Hepburn’ is an intricately put-together Bad Seeds-esque piece about the subject of Noah’s affection and how they appear to be hiding their true feelings: ‘You must have been insane to come and meet some stranger in the middle of the night, go speeding through the darkness on the back of his bike. We rode together in the wind, vanishhed in a dream where the nights go on together’. As the album approaches its final moments, the power pop of ‘All My Friends’ ups the tempo in exhilarating fashion. Noah talks about getting ‘high school drunk’ and demands ‘Just dance. Nothing lasts forever’ and ‘Live it up, it’s never gonna be enough’. It finishes with the repeated enthusiastic chants of ‘Me and all of my friends gonna live forever’. The album than closes with ‘Kamikaze, a heartfelt and dream pop song that finds Noah talking about scarecrows and being pumped full of drugs.
This is a fine, personal and cathartic record that leaves its mark in a powerful and poignant way.