Fred Thomas – Aftering
While Aftering doesn’t have the consistency of Fred Thomas' previous album Changer, it is urgent and incisive when it wants to be and serves as further proof of his talents
Fred Thomas’ Changer was one of the best albums of last year and served as a prime example of his knack for writing songs which are emotionally direct without slipping into unbearable earnestness. The first half of his latest, Aftering is equally stunning. Like he did on Changer, Thomas finds poetry in nostalgia while acknowledging that revelling in the past isn’t always healthy. The chorus of Alcohol Poisoning ('Once these days are gone, they’re gone forever / They’re never coming back again') captures Thomas’ philosophy in a quick, catchy burst.
Aftering’s first half is stacked with great songs, from the aforementioned Alcohol Poisoning to the equally evocative and invigorating Hopeless Ocean Drinker, and Altar which benefits from Anna Burch’s punchy backing vocals. Other indelible moments include the graceful build of single Good Times Are Gone Again and a fleeting reference to cult post-punk icon Chandra in House Show, Late December.
On Changer, the faster tracks were broken up by moody, droning electronic pieces serving as effective breaks from songwriting which leaned into sincere, straight-ahead indie rock. Unfortunately, the pacing of Aftering is much more uneven. Its strongest moments are the ones in which Thomas embraces his tendency toward winning, poetically specific pop, which makes it more frustrating when he chooses to cap off an otherwise very strong record with 20 minutes of low-key ambience and an overwrought ballad (Mother, Daughter, Pharmaprix).
While Aftering doesn’t have the consistency of Changer, it is urgent and incisive when it wants to be and serves as further proof of Thomas’ talents.
Listen to: Hopeless Ocean Drinker, Good Times Are Gone Again, Altar