Adventures in your Own BackyardMusic CD - 2012
From the critics
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Indie rock enthusiasts may remember that Patrick Watson took home the Polaris in 2007 for *Close to Paradise.* Up against indie heavyweights like the Arcade Fire, Feist, Joel Plaskett and the Dears, Patrick Watson’s sophomore album took the prize.<br />
With just one album released in the intervening 5 years (2009’s *Wooden Arms*), fans will happy to hear *Adventures In Your Own Backyard* is well worth the wait. It’s one of very few albums these days with an effective sonic thesis determining the tone of the entire work. Some critics have complained *Adventures* lacks palpable hits and hooks, and while they aren’t wrong, I feel the album is stronger for it. Having too many ear-worm tracks with their own distinctive feel would likely have detracted from the incredible whole Patrick Watson created.<br />
The first track, “Lighthouse,” is a melancholy, elegiac miniature symphony that perfectly sets the nostalgic tone the album is meant to achieve. Delicate piano and gentle, soaring falsetto build with perfect pacing to waves of soaring horns and strings. The arrangement evokes games of Cowboys and Indians and the endless sense of freedom of childhood summer days. After breaking the listener open on the first track, *Adventures* mellows into gentler, pretty songs that still capture buttery sepia sunshine and a sense of letting go.<br />
At the halfway point, “Morning Sheets” adds a lingering, sensual layer - reminiscent of Antony and the Johnsons’ yearning smoulder - to the album’s sound. The new theme gives the total album something different from other music rooted in longing for lost youth; *Adventures* is a celebration of creating new life as well, and of the nostalgia we experience as we watch our children discover the world for the first time. Listeners who find themselves impatient with a lack of candy-coated hooks and hit tracks in the first half of the album will likely have an easier go once they get to “Morning Sheets,” as the intensity of *Adventures’* soundscape builds toward the album’s last three tracks. <br />
With “Noisy Sunday” and the eponymous “Adventures In Your Own Backyard,” the tension mounting through the album finally breaks loose, reprising themes established in the symphonic first track. The emotional energy expends itself by the end of the second last track, with “Swimming Pools,” the final track, providing a sad, tender afterglow that ties the whole album up flawlessly. <br />
*Adventures In Your Own Backyard* perfectly encapsulates the sweet melancholy of the moment we simultaneously relinquish our own youth and find it reborn in those around us. Having got my vote for album of the year, I highly recommended *Adventures* to any fans of independent music who love lush, dreamy melodies and don’t mind waiting an entire album for musical themes to resolve themselves.
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