The New Year

The New Year (Touch and Go)

In the 16 years since the "Bedside Table"/"Living Well" 7-inch scored a direct hit, Los Bros Kadane (Matt and Bubba, where you been?) have never disappointed and always delighted—astounded, even, by which I mean usually. Theirs has always been a singular brand of quiet-loud-LOUDER that, upon first impression, felt a bit chilly to the touch but proved instead scalding; discomfiting, I think, is the word we're looking for. And for years, as Bedhead and later The New Year, it was their thing—their calling card, their brand name, their influence, their legacy. Till now. Till this record. Till this masterpiece. The longtime fan will be caught off-guard; it's so...unexpected. Which, for a moment, stands in the way of the thrill—there's some adjusting to be done here, some relearning of a once-familiar language.

At last, you can hear why Matt and Bubba claim among their heroes Pete Townshend—not because the rock's arena-sized (though "The Door Opens" comes close to qualifying), but because the rather brief record (34:25 running time, too short) is epic in scope, the sound of a band allowing itself space to sprawl as it searches for and strikes upon a brand-new sound that encompasses languid piano, Shaft high-hats, funny (not ha-ha) lyrics and melodies so close to pop they burst at the themes. The Kadanes—once again propped up by a band that includes Peter Schmidt (guitar), Mike Donofrio (bass) and Chris Brokaw (drums)—proffer gems anthemic (closer "The Idea of You"), cathartic ("The Door Opens"), catchy ("X Off Days") and, mostly, beautiful. Deeply, proudly, thoughtfully, unexpectedly beautiful—must be all that damned piano getting in the eyes.

 
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