The new record from Howie Reeve is smaller, now. Sitting on his own for quite a few years now after playing with many indie-pop and indie-rock bands has enabled him to gather a great deal of experience and musical wisdom. This record is available on vinyl LP on The Audacious Art Experiment / Red Wig.
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Howie Reeve’s tentative tenure in the excellent Tattie Toes proved his mash-up of structureless guitar composition and indie pop pretty indispensable; his new solo effort ‘smaller, now’ is a direct continuation of his verbose, sparse, furious and super-silent work, its juxtapositions always crashing down like a vulnerable jenga tower.
For the most part, Reeve goes in with an electric guitar at one constant tuning for this record, offering a couple of toy instruments at times and otherwise letting silence weave its way around the chords and odd fret manoeuvres. His lyrics, direct and cloying, make meagre but vital appearances, painting broad pictures of the fantastically mundane: shoe racks stack up and often deviating into wordless scowls. Shambolic doesn’t do it justice, but this record’s weird movements still feel homely, the close-up recording revealing the sense in which we’re discovering these songs’ destinations with Reeve, rather than after him.
The appeal of Reeve’s playing is often in its familiarity: I feel like every time I’ve picked up a guitar and tried to write something I’ve been met with this kind of formlessness, where melody and dynamics are there, where ideas are forming, but never quite reaching their destination. His sound is more investigative than it is complex, with songs following one pattern until its breaking point and then often trying out another one -- it’s like Richard Dawson without the songs proper, and much like Mount Eerie in its wonderful, playful movements and retreats. Contrasted with the odd bit of melodic home running (the saxophone lyrically tumbling through "Clumsy Love"), Reeve proves himself a secretly subtle craftsman.
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