When Restorations released their Self-Titled full-length in April of 2011, conversation about the Philadelphian band seemed fixated on one thing: finding some box in which to fit them.
Though some come close, almost every attempt to define Restorations has fallen short. Sure, something about the vitality expressed in these songs seems “punk,” and, yes, there’s something about singer Jon Loudon’s smoky howl that, combined with the warm warble of their guitars, feels folksy, if only fiercely so. These, though, don’t consider the droning—the reckless beams of feedback; the cavernous, buzzing bass; Ben Pierce’s trilling, billowing organs; the endless layers of echo and delay—which blends each instrument into some roaring, reeling watercolor of melody. It’s not that this first full-length is indescribable; it’s simply indefinable.
On A/B, a two-song seven-inch released by Tiny Engines in the summer of 2012, Restorations refines this sound further, but, to the dismay of rock critics around the world, they steer no closer to easy categorization. Recorded by Jon Low at Miner Street Studios, the single exhibits the band at their most massive, but also their most dynamic. The guitars glimmer and glint off of drummer Carlin Brown’s stuttering cadence during the verses and choruses of “A”, over which Loudon’s husky cries seem to climb and cascade. “Hey kid, in time they’ll forgive you,” he sings, “Just do what you gotta do.” Just then, the song comes to a sudden halt, and a guitar flickers softly, like a lit wick, before exploding into a forceful cloud of chords, scalding cymbals, and staggering rhythm.
Somehow, “B” builds on the a-side’s dynamic power. The song starts with Dan Zimmerman’s bass bucking anxiously behind Brown’s steady beat; here Loudon’s Telecaster seems to taunt Dave Klyman’s fidgety, fizzy lead. Following a vicious second verse, the song recedes into a sudden, distant shimmer. In this twilight, Loudon is met with his band mates and, slowly, their dim “woahs” swell into a four-part symphony of voices, a harmonious orchestra that bursts into a dramatic, driving groove. The way “B” rises and reels, slips and swoops and dives, makes it one of the band’s most hypnotic, intense tracks.
Of course, if this roller coaster ride of melodies and moods makes A/B difficult to define, it also makes it a compelling pair of songs. Maybe this is why people seem so desperate to pin down Restorations; after all, it’s fun to describe that, which captures our interest, piques our curiosity, and stretches our expectations. For now though, we will have to allow Restorations to mysteriously exist in their own spacious territory. The only question is where will they go next?
Tiny Engines – TE116