Recommended Tracks: “The Last Dance”, “Alien Coast”, “Love Letter From A Red Roof Inn”
Artists You May Like: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, The Revivalists, Rag’n’Bone Man
When in the business of music, inspiration can come from almost anywhere. It leads to the age-old question: Does life imitate art or does art imitate life? We may never know, but art and life definitely played a big part on St. Paul & The Broken Bones’ fourth studio album, The Alien Coast. A collection of 11 tracks that play out like a fever dream, The Alien Coast showcases the band at their most creative, and takes them into territory never before explored.
For this album, St. Paul & The Broken Bones were given unlimited access to a studio in their hometown, which enabled them to experiment with their sound. We hear fascinating combinations of different genres, mostly alluding to soul, funk, psychedelia, and “stoner rock.” There is the instrumental “Atlas,” which takes us on a club-meets-jazz-meets-funk type of ride, consisting of glittering piano, syncopated drums, and relaxed guitar. We also have the psychedelic “Bermejo And The Devil” and “Hunter And His Hounds,” which feature bright guitar and swirling production. The layers of sound are incredible, ensuring something new for us to discover upon each listen.
These tracks offer so much in terms of sound and production, but there are times when it tends to cover up Paul Janeway’s soulful vocals. On the rhythmic “The Last Dance” and “Alien Coast,” for instance, the driving beats dominate the tracks, covering up some of the lyrics. There are also delicate moments, like on the haunting “Minotaur,” where Janeway’s falsetto gets lost in the shuffle. Of course, there are times when his vocals are the focal point, like on “Love Letter From A Red Roof Inn” or on the decadent “Popcorn Ceiling” where the music drops out altogether, but I wish these moments happened more often.
Overall, St. Paul & The Broken Bones tell such moving stories with these tracks. Themes of doom and disaster are prevalent, as we hear on the opening track “3000 AD Mass” and “The Last Dance,” touching on some of the apocalyptic vibes we have felt during this pandemic. Yet, we also get glimpses of love, with tracks such as “Tin Man Love” and “Popcorn Ceiling” instilling a notion that things will end up alright. These tracks all offer unique snapshots into fear and hope, the production bringing forth telling visuals.
In the end, The Alien Coast is a thought-provoking journey from beginning to end. The enriching soundscapes and detailed lyrics offer moments of reflection, as the band tap into stories that range from the obscure to the peculiar. While they draw from Greek mythology to works of sci-fi to European paintings and sculptures, St. Paul & The Broken Bones keep things fresh and original, putting their own spin on these songs. The album may not be for everyone, but it is worthwhile for fans of the band, fans of the genres presented, or fans of the various topics that are explored on this project.
You can listen to The Alien Coast on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
Grab tickets to St. Paul & The Broken Bones’ upcoming The Alien Coast Tour here.