The Only Thing I Ever Wanted
ait. Come back. I know I said I’d never use that word again. But you had me hemmed in, without exit. I couldn’t make myself known. You were so obstinate. You refused to hear me. I just wanted you to play this one. Another record. So I said that ne’er-again. Folktronica.
The problem with quaint genre-signifiers is that, much like stereotypes about conservatives or bike messengers, they’ve become prominent for one reason: they’re usually right. But once the word loses favor, so must the genre. Bands like Psapp are pigeon-holed with lesser second-cousins they wouldn’t nod to at a summer barbecue. But their Domino debut, The Only Thing I Ever Wanted, is yet another record of hushed favoritism, one you’ll play in circles when your hair’s frizzled by humid summer rain and you think the cat might be sick again.
For those of you familiar with the band’s debut, 2004’s Tiger, My Friend, I can make this simple: The Only Thing I Ever Wanted is just as good. But it’s that neck-and-neck association that may damn this record in the face of those who want novelty. What Only Thing offers is an assured purpose, perhaps too easily borne the first time around, given the mirror. The chopped bells, wrinkled water waves, and jerk-kneed drum patterns of “Hi” are the band’s ABCs, while “This Way”’s tousled Norwegian jazz is soft and unusual, bringing Galia Durant’s command of voice and tone to the stage. Elsewhere, “Tricycle” will no doubt find its way into ABC’s primetime lineup next fall, a pulpy mash of papery beats and firepit acoustic guitars that’s one of the band’s most streamlined and yet hypnotic compositions, and the curling circus ‘stache of “The Words” stuffs enough elements of sound and noise into its twirl to people ten Ringling tents.
But that’s just that. It’s Psapp. Two albums deep, one nuance, crudely-carved. Despite the mesmerism at work in “Make Up”—with its blue-blood piano and Durant’s voice set in a quiet highway tunnel, shaved of all of Carim Clasmann’s tendency to sometimes fill Psapp’s rooms with too many clocks, too much tick and clack and ring—or in the solitary french horn on “Upstairs,” they remain quintessentially a band that fans will follow regardless of these words and the unfamiliar will pass on unheard. Sometimes simplistic comfort is its own safeguard. Besides, you’ve come back and let me have my say. I broke my promise; it won’t happen again. Banished, that one.