Sometimes, you come across an album so understated and muted you miss it. Like a shooting star, it may shine brightly but only briefly. Surely if I shove this under your nose they’ll be no excuses right? But it would be abhorrent to treat an album as delicate as this in such a barbaric manner. Instead, I’ll waft it over in your direction like the fragrant scents of a freshly baked pie. And that’s exactly what wispy opener ‘figure me out’ feels like; the tantalising vapours of something delicious.
Beagles is the latest musical venture of Portland-based Michael Todd. After ten tears perfecting his craft via other projects, Beagles represents Michael’s most mature work to date. It was recorded in the attic of his parent’s house after many introspective hours about childhood and distant memories.
‘My neighbour is a drug dealer’ greets us with the pensive plucking of a guitar until Michael’s vocals inconspicuously drift in with a sense of vulnerability that makes you wonder whether they can even carry their own weight. The track meanders along with seemingly trivial statements until Michael confesses “I don’t know what I need” – a sentiment that many young adults can relate to. What’s really captivating, however, is that this sense of ambivalence is not only reflected in the lyrics but also in the translucent timbre of this album.
The anaphoric nature of ‘Microwave Light’ has a hypnotic sleepiness to it as Michael repeats “duplex dreams”. It sounds like the soundtrack for a sleepy isolated town like Whittier where darkness envelopes the day early and everything is motionless. There’s also a twee charm at times too like in ‘murdererr’ when Michael placidly croons: “my cat’s in the shower when shower is over//and lays in the water and I am her father.”
There’s no doubt this is an endearing record where you’re given a bare snapshot of an artist’s life and their philosophical ponderings. It’s been captured in both the lyrics and the dulcet tones of each track and further enhanced by the lo-fi production thus conjuring a complete and carefully arranged album. Some people tend to avoid self-reflection; if you’re one of those you may want to avoid this too.