Chris Cohen – Overgrown Path – album review

Chris Cohen – Overgrown Path (Captured Tracks)
LP / CD / DL
Released 25 September 2012

Deerhoof man Chris Cohen’s solo album is an agreeable warm list of psychedelic pop.

I don’t know what you would call this; ultra-smooth hipster retro pop folk, maybe?

Chris Cohen‘s label, Captured Tracks, calls it psychedelic pop. Ya, okay, I guess that works to. It’s a bit shorter than my description, so let’s go with that.

The press release also points out right at the beginning that he is 37 years old. Got it! Thirty seven. Glad that is cleared up. Now we can get to the music on this album, most of which he plays completely by himself (bass, Casio MT65, piano, and guitar).

The press release describes him as “A singing drummer who writes psychedelic pop music.” Perfect! This is making my job very easy. It’s hard describing this stuff sometimes!

He’s been in a few bands over the years, including Deerhoof, the one I am most familiar with, and Cryptacize and The Curtains which sound a whole lot like this solo effort, minus the Casio. “Overgrown Path”, however, sounds far more mature, and less quirky and odd for the sake of being quirky and odd.

What he has created is airy, light and breezy; ’70s AM radio revisited (with a wee bit of a ’60s flashback at times). It’s a blue van with shag carpet and a tinted bubble window in the back, with a picture of a naked lady on a tiger skin rug air-brushed on the side. It’s a kite, floating through a bright blue, cloud free sky with a faux hippy dude wearing no shirt pulling the string. It’s wicker furniture. It’s an easy, smooth, pleasant, yet hip and happenin’ listen.

There is nothing spectacularly crazy here- just nice, laid back, mellow, enjoyable sounds. I quite like it, I have to admit. The whole album gives me the same feeling as when I listen to the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. It’s drift away into dream land music; unobtrusive, not battling for your attention. Your own thoughts can continue to flow and this music enhances, not distracts.

The lyrics are there but just blend into the music in an inconspicuous way while Cohen’s voice is gentle, warm and comforting. Take “Optimist High” for example. Doesn’t this warm your cockles?:

There is one little thing, which is such a small part of the album, but it is something that I love and it is how the bass sounds at times; like a light thunking. To me this stands out as a really neat sound for whatever reason.

The opening of “Monad” (one of my favourites on the album) sticks in my head because of it. It’s also very prominent in “Don’t Look Today”. It’s the little things in life that stand out sometimes, right?

Really, over all, I just like this album as a whole, and I like it a whole lot. It’s just an enjoyable, agreeable, warm listen. It makes me feel good inside, even when the lyrics are a bit glum. It’s a record to listen to from beginning to end; a real “album” album”¦not an album of singles, or a couple of singles and a bunch of filler.

Good job to Chris from a fellow Chris. You do us Chris’ proud Chris Cohen!

All words by Chris Hearn. You can read more from Chris on LTW here.

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