During a recent discussion about Hozier, a friend of mine voiced a grievance: it’s annoying to read reviews focused on comparisons between his latest album and his biggest single, “Take Me To Church”—which came out almost a decade ago. She has a point—discussing a previous record and giving it too much air can be unfair to the artist’s current work, and perhaps even distracting from the implicit or even explicit purpose of a review. Which is a roundabout way to say that those reading this probably already know about Kevin Drew’s work with Broken Social Scene, the long-running and celebrated indie rock group he’s fronted for more than two decades—so I likely won’t need to explain it to you.
Aging is Kevin Drew’s third solo album and his first since 2014’s Darlings, a good record that nonetheless felt like something was missing. On Aging, however, Drew seems to have found that one intangible but palpable thing. It opens with “Elevators,” a stunning piece of art that reminds me of Croatian singer/songwriter Sara Renar’s “Where Do You Draw The Line?” It’s dark but evokes a feeling of solace and calm. Brooding drums ground the song, allowing Kevin’s voice to pierce through the instrumentation. His voice on this track is just comforting enough but makes him sound like he’s going through something, especially as the harmonies come in.
Much of the album has this fascinating restraint to it, teasing like it’s going to explode into a massive climax but never does. Even during the more pop-friendly parts of the album, as on songs like “Out In The Fields,” this kind of restraint is there in the open. In other hands this might result in a series of missteps and missed opportunities, leaving the listener disappointed as a result of expecting that climatic emotional moment. But Kevin somehow makes it all work gracefully.
One mild criticism worth noting is that the first single and already mentioned “Out In The Fields” sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s a great, uplifting song but it feels disconnected from the other songs on this album, disrupting the flow of the album a bit, and probably would have fit best as a closing track. Especially because of its uplifting atmosphere and inspirational melodies, which would make for an outstanding finale.
Aging is Kevin’s shortest solo album to date, clocking just under 33 minutes, which is to the album’s benefit. Both of his previous albums featured a bit too much filler, and Aging cuts out the excess. More importantly, it’s Kevin’s best solo album, a fantastic collection of minimalist (mostly) piano pieces worth repeated revisits.
Label: Arts & Crafts