What does it sound like?:
It’s always hard to judge if an album that brings together distinguished members of favourite bands together is a diverting side project, or the start of something substantial. I would tip the dial of Invitation towards the latter, while not ruling out this being a one-time only deal to enjoy now . Peter Buck provides the guitars, Corin Tucker from Sleater-Kinney the vocals, and new-to-me-though-not-to-many-Afterworders Bill Reiflin from King Crimson, with Kurt Bloch and Scott McCaughey. It’s a post-Bill Berry R.E.M. Friends and family affair.
Lead album track and lead single Despierta is excellent – crunchy guitars, rumbling bass and drums and a monster chorus. It sets a template that foregoes in almost all cases the classic R.E.M. Jangle sound for loud/soft references from the 90s that take in Pixies, Breeders, Throwing Muses and further back to Television. The first half of the album sustains a high quality of songwriting: Faded Afternoon and The Arrival are both terrific. Surprise here is mainly round the textures and edges – there’s one Buck refrain that echoes Spirit of Radio, and in two tracks the college rock mould is decisively broken. Come Back Shelley taps into Ziggy and Marc Bolan to bring some glam rock stomp, while downbeat last track has an acoustic swing and vocals that you would swear was ripped from an unheard Aimee Mann out-take.
If it doesn’t always rise above the sum of its parts it’s a promising enough start and strong enough to stand on its own two feet (or the four feet of the foxes on the cover). Those of us still missing R.E.M. Should find solace here.
What does it all *mean*?
Peter Buck has already had three solo albums out – no, me neither, but they were vinyl only. His productivity means FF may be a brief flash in the pan, but they are touring which is a good sign. Hope they make it to the UK.
Goes well with…
Left of the dial.
Might suit people who like…