Release Date: Jan 13, 2015
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Chamber Pop
Credited to Liam Hayes alone, Slurrup is, aptly enough, less lush than his work with Plush. These stripped-down, immediate songs feel even more so in comparison to the wistful, twinkly mood Hayes and company set on Korp Sole Roller, where filigreed power pop and Laurel Canyon-esque reflections were surrounded by contemplative interludes. Here, Hayes lets nothing get in the way of the music's momentum and he clears out the bric-a-brac in favor of adrenaline, with winning results.
Music fans love monomaniacal obscurities whose records are impossible to source. As Plush and under his own name, Liam Hayes is a fried, lovelorn Burt Bacharach who has been playing cat and mouse with his audience for 20 years; his 2002 magnum opus, Fed, was for some time only available as a Japanese import. This latest, fifth, surprisingly perky, psychedelic doodle on Hayes’s own great American songbook arrives in an uncharacteristic rush after last autumn’s only semi-expected Korp Sole Roller album.
Liam Hayes is an accidental perfectionist. In hindsight, the Chicago-bred/Milwaukee-based songwriter’s disjointed two-decade trajectory—under his nom de pop Plush and, now, his birth name—was pretty much spelled out in the title of his early signature "Soaring and Boring": high expectations followed by agonizingly long periods of inactivity. On the surface, Hayes’ backstory boasts all the hallmarks of a contrarian eccentric genius, whether he was answering the orch-pop promise of Plush’s splendorous 1994 debut single "Three-Quarters Blind Eyes"/"Found a Little Baby" with 1998’s starkly somber solo-piano effort More You Becomes You; tinkering with the symphono-soul follow-up Fed so much he had to release it in two different versions; or issuing certain albums in Japan only.
In his alter ego as Plush, Chicago singer-songwriter Liam Hayes established something of a reputation for reckless ambition and perfectionism to the point of hubris. The sumptuous, elaborate Fed album came with a frustrating backstory of record company wrangles and delays that it became easy for this myth to become the whole story. In fact, the first Plush album (More You Becomes You) was a set of spare, vulnerable piano songs – identifying Hayes, somewhat unexpectedly, as a sort of lo-fi Burt Bacharach.
Liam Hayes is a man out of time. Stumbling across Slurrup in the vinyl stacks at a charity shop would feel like a small miracle: it has guitar melodies that glow waxen yellow; chugging, Who-style riffs; zinging backwards chords; a meaty story straight out of Tales of the Unexpected and a tender murmur to a “pretty darling” who needs a morale boost. As a new-mint release in 2015, however, it’s less persuasive.
Sorrow, betrayal, breaking up and lingering resentment are inexhaustible sources for the alt-country songwriter Justin Townes Earle. “These old stories always end up the same/The pain is the price you pay,” he sings in “Call Ya Momma,” one of the many breakup songs on his sixth studio album, “Absent Fathers.” It follows closely on his fifth one, “Single Mothers,” which Mr. Earle released in September.