Sometimes, if you’re feeling like shit, it’s better to not fight it. Sometimes shit moods can even sublimate into a reasonably enjoyable, kind of weird album, as is the case with Memory Tapes’s latest work, Grace/Confusion.

Memory Tapes

B
Grace/Confusion
Carpark


The album offers a glimpse into the inner unrest of Dayve Hawk, the man behind Memory Tapes, who explained in an interview with MTV Hive that he felt like a mess while working on it.

Grace/Confusion is an LP that squirms, that quickly becomes tired and restless if forced to stay in one place for too long. The shortest track is almost five minutes long, though, so the songs have plenty of wiggle room. This allows Hawk the opportunity to twist a track into a number of shapes, leaving listeners in a dizzied, giddy vertigo by the end of the album.

The opening track, “Neighborhood Watch,” starts off pretty straightforward with a drowsy guitar and Hawk’s delightfully androgynous vocals, but 45 seconds in, shifts to a springy refrain that remains sleek and polished despite the change in pace. Hawk goes back and forth between the two personalities up until the end, which involves a clumsy transition into a screechy guitar solo that tears the song apart for no reason. It’s essentially a tantrum — out of place and unpredictable — but if messy is what Hawk is going for, he’s accomplished it.

Now for the Grace aspect of the album. Hawk redeems himself with the subsequent “Thru the Field,” a venturesome track that romps along with intersperses of what sounds like a clip of a playground. About halfway through, Hawk offers an interlude of one of the most shimmery, bouncy, fantastic pieces of pop you’ll hear in a while — oh my goodness, it’s just so happy. There’s a feverish guitar solo that manages to not try too hard, and the end of the song is essentially Memory Tapes cooling down, the sound of rain sprinkling in the background. Like much of the album, “Thru the Field” is all over the place, but never spirals out of control.

“Let Me Be” is an eerier song that morphs together a variety of sounds, including indistinct moans, steel drums, a metallic screeching sound and — is that a didgeridoo? But rather than jerking you around, Hawk layers the songs, maintaining some sort of continuity and sparing you from the melodic potpourri found in parts of Grace/Confusion (we mean you, “Neighborhood Watch”).

The alter ego to “Let Me Be” is the fantastically average track, “Follow Me” — a static song that hops around without really going anywhere at all. There’s plenty of “ooh”-ing filler and the same uninspired pinging sounds until about seven minutes in, when Hawk must have thought, “Well, I should probably end this song now.” So he does, and the album ends on an underwhelming note that completely diverges from the unpredictability of its predecessors. “Follow Me” may make more sense than the majority of Grace/Confusion but, simply put, it’s not as fun.

But that’s no reason to forget about the middle chunk of Grace/Confusion, where Hawk’s real successes can be found. He stumbles along, definitely achieving the “confusion” aspect of the album title, but it’s in this mess where moments of grace can be found.

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