CURRENTLY LISTENING: Big People by Max Gowan

From the get-go, Max Gowan knows how to grab your attention with classic melodic elements on this first full-length. But there’s a certain open fearlessness here that I haven’t heard in a while and that’s a critique that goes past the fact that it’s a bedroom recording. Sure, it’s not perfect. Some of the beats are a little mismatched and the vocals can stumble off a little, but I frankly miss this kind of honesty. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the kind of creativity that can come out of the safe confines of a teenage bedroom. It’s a rawness no studio can touch or will ever be able to simulate. Big People reaches out to all the others in bedrooms making similar tunes and says, not only can you create what you want, but you can make it this good. Gowan never over-does it, either. Any layer of instrumentation just adds to the album’s charm. He seems to have a well-crafted intuition, too, that tells him exactly how much—sweetness, bitterness, loneliness, confusion, whatever—would be overdoing it.

One critique might be that the album veers on the sentimental, but I think that’s a matter of taste and how much interest you have for the singer/songwriter genre in the first place. I am personally always drawn to people bleeding out their concerns, insecurities and the like to anyone who is open to caring. “Bend” is one such tune, but I can only hear the deeply personal musings of a guy just trying to figure it all out. I mean, who isn’t? The titular song “Big People” pulls the scope back and, over some spaced-out, swooning guitars, we get to examine the world together on a grander scale. It’s simple, yet thoughtful.

Perhaps the track that grabs my attention most is the only instrumental: “The Stumble”. That single minor note placed in the midst of such beautiful composition reiterates Gowan’s personal dissonance and discomfort with figuring out his own creative place in the world—it says a lot without having to say a thing. Highly personal and so promising, you need to hear this record.

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