Album review: Max Gowan – Far Corners
Max Gowan’s third LP, Far Corners, is appropriately, an album about space. About the spaces we find ourselves in, about what’s in-between, and about the space itself in this album. It’s about space as an atmosphere, as conspicuous by its absence that it might be.
Serving as a remarkable step forward from his previous and excellent Mass Transit, Gowan seems to move several album’s worth of progression on this LP. The songwriting and production both move away from his more pop/acoustic roots to serve these new songs. At eight tracks and less than half an hour long, Far Corners uses its length to its advantage to produce a coherent and thoughtful piece of music that works best when taken in as a whole. While the individual songs shine due to their overall polish and care, they are better taken in relation to each other. The glossy high ambience of “All of the Time” flows so smoothly into the percussive autumn pop of “Washed Up” that it makes the two an almost necessary consecutive listen, and that logical progression is how Far Corners as a whole unfolds.
In-between these, the instruments themselves breathes a sense of space, played upon by the production and mix, that is deceptively easy to listen to. Only upon further listens would one find the dissonant harmony between the various parts of opener “Bad Breeze”, in a title that fittingly sums up the almost paradoxical nature of the album.
It’s on album highlight “Lawnmower” that Gowan showcases his keenest instincts as a songwriter. From the opening, almost narratively plodding baseline, to the breathtaking climactic chorus, “Lawnmower” is the art of deconstruction, of pop music being played backwards, of reward firmly tucked behind attentiveness. It’s a watershed moment for the young artist, who displays a honed sense of confidence on these tracks, not least of all for their departure from his previous, and safer, sound.
Far Corners is an interesting listening experience, without the sense of importance that is often due for albums bestowed with that moniker. Its sense of discovery is matched by the pleasures unearthed upon each subsequent listen, and it’s further to the testament of craft and skill that Gowan has been methodically releasing since his debut, Big People, only two years ago. It’s on Far Corners that Max Gowan ruminates upon space from the past, and finds his most promising future yet.
You can grab a copy of Far Corners (and name your own price) over at Bandcamp.
Review by Adrian Pedić.