In her song “Headphones,” Björk sings, “My headphones / they saved my life.” They saved Turnpike Glow’s as well.
The first couple of times I listened to Turnpike Glow’s debut EP, Rush Home, I was extremely disappointed. It was anything but memorable and certainly didn’t live up to their press release’s promise that Turnpike Glow’s mission is “to restore some faith in the frustrating destiny of modern pop.” It seemed as if Turnpike Glow took a bunch of different genres, removed all of the elements that made these genres truly different, and smashed them together for a rather bland first offering. It was Heavenly without being cute, Ride without the wall of sound, Broken Social Scene without the baroque pop beauty, the Flaming Lips without the funky eccentricities. Take away all of these integral elements and what you’re left with is a part of the frustrating destiny of modern pop that Turnpike Glow claim to be crusading against. That was, until I put my headphones on.
Rush Home is an EP meant for listening in the confined space between your left headphone and your right. The distorted guitars and “cheeky noises” that the liner notes tout go unheard on a traditional stereo system but with headphones, they seem to come alive. “Forecasts” and “Chopin (Wears Your Best Gown)” were forgettable tracks until my headphones allowed me to hear every single sound within the EP. Despite my headphone epiphany, Rush Home is far from perfect. It has the tendency to fade into background noise, especially the last track “Mainstream.” It’s easy to ignore when the listener doesn’t feel like paying attention to it. The lush soundscapes that populate the album are a double-edged sword because they are at the same time beautiful and mildly uninteresting, making them easy to write off. Once again, though, the soundscapes, and Rush Home as a whole, become much more interesting once the headphones go on.
Rush Home has a very particular feel to it. There is a great
positivity that runs throughout the EP. From the cheeky noises to the vocals, Rush Home just feels happy. Not unlike Apples in Stereo or Of Montreal, that feeling is just simply ingrained into the music. It’s quite refreshing after release-upon-release of over dramatic sludge. “Dirty Rain,” the opening track, perfectly encapsulates this feeling right from the get go, and it’s hard to not crack a smile, or even do a little dance, when listening to it. There are some records that are blatantly summer records that feel out of place in the dreariness of winter. Rush Home is a summer EP for those rainy summer days where all you want to do is look out your window and watch the rain wash away the heat.
Rush Home is an impressive debut from a band that comes off as extremely underwhelming the first listen around. Give the boys a chance. Take Björk’s and my advice, let headphones save Turnpike Glow’s life.
Heavenly – Le Jardin de Heavenly
The Beta Band – The Three EPs
Broken Social Scene – Feel Good Lost