Published Sep 05, 2018Fresh in his fatherhood, Eric Bachmann contemplates the world and the lives we lead with new eyes on No Recover, thinking deeply and delivering some of the most powerful vocals in his creative arc. The relatively sparse instrumentation here is a far cry from his punk rock work in Archers of Loaf (though, for the first time since his old band initially ceased activity 20 years ago, Bachmann has collaborated with Archers guitarist Eric Johnson here) but even if it's minimal, there's a certain atmospheric lushness present that propels these personal songs into a compelling and tangible realm.
Primarily led by acoustic and electric guitar with subtle synthesizers, pulsing rhythms, and dynamic vocals ("Daylight" is a remarkable show of range and force; "Yonah" is ostensibly a vivid yodel), No Recover couldn't be more adult. There's a haze here though, as though most of life was some bacchanal, retrospectively surveyed from the hangover that is middle age. Getting older, being a dad — these things will make you realize that life and death are less optional than youth would have you believe.
Bachmann is simply too wise and tasteful an artist to sing about anything as universal as the birth of his son (and how the experience may have altered him forever) in an overtly direct way. Instead, he scrutinizes himself, invoking mamas, papas, and "unrealistic expectations" on glorious things, like "Murmuration Song," that hint at the obstacles a child might face making sense of the world, pausing to highlight the fact that parents maybe don't have to develop such things and lay them before whatever path their kids choose to explore.
While he may conjure a devastating apocalypse on "Boom and Shake," or send his son a hopefully morbid missive with "Dead and Gone," like some involuntary emissary of the grim reaper, Bachmann renders songs about doubt and fear like he isn't scared of shit. The sense on this wondrous and haunting album is that he's a man and a songwriter that lives to command life and forge new ways forward, disproving the merits of convention by simply reflecting upon how falling in line is not for him and, damn it, it won't have to be for his family neither. (Merge)