Release Date: May 1, 2012
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter, Indie Pop, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Chamber Pop
PATRICK WATSON plays the Music Hall on May 29. See listing. Rating: NNNN Polaris winner Patrick Watson's fourth album is a sneaky surprise. Lighthouse, the twinkling piano ballad that starts things off, is slow and gentle, with Watson's falsetto coming close to evoking Jeff Buckley's gentler moments.
If Jeff Buckley had been given the time to shine more of his jazz, off-kilter leanings, the late singer-songwriter might have sounded like the brave, bold Patrick Watson does at this moment. Not that the Canadian Watson and his stalwart ensemble (bassist Mishka Stein, guitarist Simon Angell, drummer Robbie Kuster) bebop until they drop—there’s simply a gentle swing to Watson’s woeful, unavoidably Buckley-esque warble, containing an epic elegance worthy of the most intimate of adventures. .
After spending nearly five years on the road promoting 2006's Close to Paradise and 2009's Polaris Music Prize-nominated Wooden Arms, Patrick Watson and his band retreated to the Montreal-based singer/songwriter's apartment to craft the appropriately titled Adventures in Your Own Backyard. Spare, haunting, and emotionally charged, Watson's fourth outing feels a little voyeuristic, like walking in on a character in the midst of a moonlit soliloquy. The lush chamber pop arrangements that have become his forte over the years are alive and well but respective of the austerity of the project, relegating themselves to the hallway, allowing standout cuts like "The Quiet Crowd," "Lighthouse," and the spooky Antony and the Johnsons-meets-Radiohead-inspired title track the room they need to find an emergency exit should the deal go bad.
In 2007, Montreal’s Patrick Watson surprised many when his second full length, Close to Paradise, won the Polaris Music Prize beating the likes of Arcade Fire, Feist and Chad VanGaalen. Surprised probably isn’t the right word though. No, 'bewitched' is perhaps more suitable. Watson’s practically made his it trademark enchanting the aforementioned Paradise and his last album Wooden Arms with magical sounds not too dissimilar from Antony and the Johnsons, Grizzly Bear and Wainwright.
The career of Montreal multi-instrumentalist Patrick Watson has endured its share of ups and downs. On the upside, his sophomore album, 2006’s Close to Paradise, won the inaugural Polaris Prize, which surprised quite a few Canadian music industry observers, and placed him and his band in the same lauded plateau as future winners Fucked Up, Owen Pallett (as Final Fantasy) and Arcade Fire. There have been setbacks, too, though.
After touring 2006's Close to Paradise and then 2009's Wooden Arms for five gruelling years, (the band) Patrick Watson opted to record the follow-up in (their singer) Patrick Watson's apartment. Those shared names must cause much confusion on the road, not to mention the fact that they sound a lot like Antony & the Johnsons and a bit less like fellow Montrealers Arcade Fire. There's a shattered feel to many of the songs here: world-weary words delivered with hazy ennui.
Canadian band Patrick Watson, named after singer/songwriter and head of the band, has been making a strong name in the crowded, talented Montreal music scene since their surprise Polaris Prize win in 2007 for Close to Paradise. Watson’s brand of orchestral and melodically saturated music has drawn critical praise–and comparisons to Antony and the Johnsons and tour mate Andrew Bird–but for whatever reason, it hasn’t pushed them further into the indie-rock mainstream. With new album Adventures in Your Own Backyard, the songwriter makes a strong case for the band’s rightful place near the top.
Patrick Watson is one of those musicians whose work, on paper, sounds like genius. Andrew Bird at his most intricate (though, importantly, not necessarily his best) comes to mind readily enough, and as it happens, Watson and Bird are touring together as we speak. They share a classical musical education (piano and violin, respectively) and a deft sense of composition, of fusing orchestration with accessible structures – those skills that define the best writers of so-called chamber pop.
Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson released what is surely the best album (so far) of 2012, Adventures In Your Own Backyard. Soul crooner meets Jeff Buckley, Watsons’ music is a backdrop to the grainy road footage of our mind. Adventures In Your Own Backyard is his fourth album, released on April 16th through Secret City/Domino Records. The 13 songs off the record create a tense and powerful listening experience.
Perfectly poised, charmingly understated chamber pop. Wyndham Wallace 2012 Something of a star in his Canadian homeland after winning the 2007 Polaris Prize – the country’s equivalent of the Mercury Prize – for his second album, Close to Paradise, and nearly repeating the feat two years later with his third, Wooden Arms, Montreal-based Patrick Watson makes a bid for similar acclaim in the UK with the release of his first for Domino Records. Any failure to scale those heights will be our loss rather than his: Adventures in Your Own Backyard is a frankly exquisite, elegantly crafted gem.
When you ask an artist how their records are best enjoyed, they often have a very specific idea. Some prefer the thought of you alone, engulfed in a huge pair of headphones, perhaps buried under a stack of papers, to others, chatting quietly with a small group of friends, and then, of course, there are those for whom the only possible option is a darkened room, strobe lights optional, where the listeners are probably engaging in the swapping of one or more body fluids. But for Patrick Watson’s latest LP, a record whose narrative is entirely based around being at home, the best place to listen is on a journey.
Patrick Watson darts amid elegantly ethereal tones, expanding and contracting chamber pop arrangements that demand deeper listening. The Montreal songwriter's fourth LP offers no exception, but as recorded in his apartment, Adventures finds Watson's broad cinematic swaths bundled into a persistently intimate experience. Drama and intrigue move amid stylistic vagaries, conjuring Andrew Bird's dexterous dynamics, especially in the softly racing clip of "Blackwind." Watson tries to bridge perspective between introspective and extroverted, with varying results.