Buffalo Tom – Quiet and Peace
Quiet and Peace isn't a bad record, it's just one of those albums that makes you realise that the world moves on
Way back (way, way back) in 1990, Buffalo Tom sounded more than a little bit like Built to Spill on their J Mascis produced second album Birdbrain, which was more than enough to recommend them to any check-shirted wannabe grunge kid for miles around. They toned down the wilder elements on their next couple of albums – Let Me Come Over and Big Red Letter Day respectively – but there were enough great songs (Staples, Taillights Fade, Mineral, Velvet Roof and Tree House to name but five) to justify their place close to the head of the Boston alt-rock scene.
Fast forward many (many, many) years and Buffalo Tom grace us with their (can it be?) tenth album Quiet and Peace. In some respects, not much has changed. Vocal duties are still shared between the croakier Bill Janovitz and the sweeter sounding Chris Colbourn to occasionally exhilarating effect (check out Roman Cars, which twins the vocals and is maybe the closest the pair of them have got to an Oasis-style Acquiesce). There are still Birdbrain/Velvet Roof style rockers that you'll want to crank up when you're pretending to be a rockstar yourself – All Be Gone and Lonely Fast and Deep could both have come from their debut. And there are plenty of those kinds of slow, bittersweet not-quite-ballads they were always really damn good at – Overtime and In the Ice are the best examples of that Buffalo Tom flavour on display here.
But – you knew there was a but coming didn't you? – whilst it's good Buffalo Tom are still around, and while there are enough moments that recall the highs of their vintage years, there is also a corresponding sense in which we and they have all gotten a little bit older and perhaps, just perhaps, they're not quite what they once were. There are moments when the voices don't quite do what they once did, when a lyric feels like it reaches for an apple that is perhaps just a mite too high on the tree and when a song overstays its welcome just a smidge (Freckles, we're looking at you with your interminable will-you-wait-will-you-wait-will-you-wait for me's). Which isn't to say Quiet and Peace is a mis step, or even a bad record, it's just one of those albums that makes you realise that the world moves on and things don't stay the same and ain't that a sad thing?
Listen to: Overtime, Lonely Fast and Deep, In the Ice