CD Review: Adam Svec

The one-time frontman of The Glad Version impressed on his second solo offering.

PHOTO COURTESY DRAW FIRE RECORDS

PHOTO COURTESY DRAW FIRE RECORDS

by Jay Boller

Adam Svec ALBUM: âÄúRarefactionâÄù LABEL: Draw Fire Records âÄúRarefaction,âÄù local singer/songwriter Adam SvecâÄôs sophomore LP, is not beach music. Passive listeners and/or those shy of subject matter including chemical abuse, death and suicide, neednâÄôt purchase this emotionally heavy LP. Like many, this disc can be surmised with blanket critiques involving phrases like âÄúpracticed songwritingâÄù and âÄúthoughtful arrangements,âÄù but it warrants more thought than that. ItâÄôs the combination of the former (raw confessionals) and the latter (Cities 97 -esque commercial viability) that make âÄúRarefactionâÄù a nuanced winner. Adam Svec, whoâÄôs currently pursuing a doctorate in audiology at the University of Minnesota, first entered the local music sceneâÄôs consciousness with The Glad Version , his fondly-remembered indie-pop group. But with âÄúRarefactionâÄù âÄî a record thatâÄôs musically minimal compared to TGV âÄî SvecâÄôs brand of heart-on-sleeve songwriting feels more in its element. The record begins with âÄúResolutionâÄù âÄî a mid-tempo ditty structured on a monotonous guitar strum. SvecâÄôs voice, one of a falsetto-heavy, Ben Gibbard -ish bent, enters the track with, âÄúCouldnâÄôt keep my resolution/so I guess IâÄôll start a new one,âÄù a line consistent with the LPâÄôs inward-facing angst. âÄúBreaking StringsâÄù is a poetic foray into SvecâÄôs lust for booze. The falsetto gets somewhat grating on the aching âÄúCalmer ManâÄù as the record veers towards its centerpiece, âÄúYou Will Die Young.âÄù An apt metaphor for SvecâÄôs solo leanings, âÄúYou Will Die YoungâÄù features agreeable acoustic picking and warm male/female vocal melodies. But at the same time, the commendably cryptic title functions as a repeating chorus and lines like âÄúIâÄôm drinking like this will be my last,âÄù make something beautiful at face value supremely darker upon further inspection. ItâÄôs not a novel ploy, but Svec executes it admirably throughout âÄúRarefaction.âÄù The latter half of the album sees Svec channeling Sunny Day Real Estate with the organ pumps and accordion howls of âÄúWolves in Milwaukee.âÄù ThereâÄôs electric guitar crunch, urgent pacing and borderline vocal freak-outs on the ironic âÄúMinnesota PrideâÄù and a vivid depiction of a motherâÄôs suicide on the delicately acoustic âÄúValley of Anything.âÄù In a town where the well is bone-dry (save Jeremy Messersmith) when it comes to male singer/songwriters, Svec is a welcome entry. HeâÄôs at his best when reigning in his sometimes overzealous falsetto, but âÄúRarefactionâÄù is an emotionally bold solo offering that doesnâÄôt fall into any âÄúsinger/songwriterâÄù traps. HeâÄôs not afraid to genre-hop with electric guitars periodically gnashing and brash lyrical statements are favored over bland coffee shop poetry. An indie artist with a forthcoming Ph.D. in audiology conjures a musical image thatâÄôs both difficult and dense. But Svec left the heady stuff in the lab, favoring accessibility with a side of substantive darkness on the impressively strong âÄúRarefaction.âÄù 4 of 5 stars