Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
So much of bad luck is perception. So much of the gravitas that doubles as the aftermath of bad luck can be exaggerated or diminished depending on the tones the recipient of the trashing wants to play. Somehow the bad luck, long, lonely open roads, the endless treadmilling of working struggle, the parade of all the wrong ones, the nights and people who got away and the realities that were maybe more smoke than anything in the songs of Southern California band Limbeck never feels overly bummered.
It's more like the downtrodden melancholy of a Fountains of Wayne song - about the depressed office employees and the peach of a girl mindlessly dating a biker with crumbs in his beard instead of the nerd who would treat her like the princess she is - or the protagonists that always seem to be in the process of bouncing back, rather than staying in the same forsaken pit. As lead singer Robb MacLean, a quiet, rosy-cheeked young man wearing a Weakerthans tee-shirt when he was here this day in early September, mentions in his notes to this first song of the session, that the band is perpetually in a state of being broke and has been since it started working together in 1999.
The things that you can learn when your means are overshadowed by the demands are staggering. These aren't just the tiny bits of personal information that someone lost in a struggle discerns about themselves - what turns the inner clock and what makes the heart beat faster or slower - but the crisp awareness a hunger (figurative or literal) can give a person is worth its weight in gold. It gives all that's around a detailed, fine-point line for a border and almost levitates the consciousness, not just to see the certainties in a personal life with more acute clarity, but to witness and observe the discrepancies that just wander around all over the place from dusk until dawn.
The Avett Brothers released one of the most insanely good albums of the year in Emotionalism and Limbeck put out a kid brother version of that record - not junior in quality - but in the frame of reference. There's a lot more younger problems happening on the eponymous record - rather than the beleaguered and beat up sobriety of the lessons learned by those Cash and Haggard minds of the Avett Brothers. Limbeck is getting to that point, but there's still too much optimism going on in the recounting of Limbeck to put them in the same roll. They find comfort in a dream about taking a girl to the Thai restaurant that they went to just days earlier. There are missions to penny-pinch and then comes the breakdown, where the sweet coos of the bar come slipping in through the cracks. The songs on Limbeck swoon to the delicacy of living modestly - and being forced to live modestly - which, if done right, can be sort of intoxicating if it matters more to make albums that behave like friendly waves, Wilco's Being There and still lifes come to life.
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