Review: The Restorations Stay Ambiguous and Glorious

THE RESTORATIONS – LP5000 (Tiny Engines) 

Released: 9/28/2018

RIYL: Gaslight Anthem, War on Drugs

The Restorations new album is short. Clocking in at twenty-four minutes over seven tracks, LP5000 risks giving the impression that it may have been rushed to release in an abbreviated state. But the Philly-based anthemists haven’t released a note since 2016’s (epic) single Alright Boys…, nor an album since 2014’s LP3.

These things take time.

Time well spent, as they’ve produced seven tracks of cohesive, vibrant, and thoughtful jams which, like all of The Restorations work, hint at a deeper understanding of what rock music is capable. This is territory that the Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon has tried to conquer over the waxing years of this century, to varying degree.

Singer John Loudon’s words tend to be ambiguous—it’s as though he chases his muse like a rabbit­­—but the musical fabric makes this moot by delivering punch after punch in emotional payoffs.On “The Red Door”, over guitar work that evokes a distant siren, he sings, Rolled a three-sided die/High above the phone line/She says, ‘Don’t be so cynical/This might all be a miracle'”. Ambiguous, perhaps, but what comes out of these cryptic musings sound meditative, and somehow, true.

Emily Dubin/Courtesy of the artist

The Restorations are not necessarily a political band, but perhaps, like many Americans, they’ve realized there is no such thing as neutral anymore. On “Melt”, an insular, hand-wringing rumination, Loudon sings, “I know you’ve been scared since November/Spooked since September” before sliding into a chorus that repeats the line:“No, I don’t wanna hear that name again”.We need not speculate too far as to which name Loudon refers.

“Nonbeliever” presumably refers to the 2016 election with turns of phrase that sound borrowed from Springsteen’s NebraskaI love your protest lines/Oh, but who has the time?”and, “I Got a partner for starters/And a kid on the way”. All of this while Dave Klyman’s guitar cauterizes the wound. 

Jon Loudon’s voice still combines grit with gold flawlessly, and the band itself coalesce more, somehow, with every album. LP5000 is no exception. Though the tracks may be few, they veer seamlessly from resignation to bitterness, from intimate to bombastic in glorious fashion. The Restorations are the band we don’t deserve, but are lucky to have.

9.5/11 Ears

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