Album Review: Mark McAdam – Shimmers
Mark McAdams’ new album Shimmers is a gorgeous exploration of genre, playing with soundscapes and pop sensibility, anchored by strong lyrical content and keen musicianship. As you listen through, you’ll hear the influences of the Beatles and Wilco, but by the end of the album, you’ll have a distinct idea of McAdam’s voice in his own right.
“Shimmers #1” begins the album in a dreamlike state, inviting in the cerebral abstractions, causing you to stop whatever it is you’re doing and listen intently for a moment. It’s the type of soundscape that makes you feel like a 4 year old and an octogenarian, simultaneously. The use of keys, piano strings, drum loops, music boxes and a plethora of other strange noises mix together and flash like light dancing on the surfaces of water, or sunshine flickering along the belly of golden aspen leaves.
“Good Morning” features a catchy melody that interacts with a playful bass line. As a person who dislikes happy songs almost on principle, I found this track’s optimism to be refreshing. Tasty female vocals add color to the chorus, and I’m seriously considering setting the song as the alarm on my phone and expect that my overall life quality will greatly improve.
“Be the Impossible” begins with a ukulele entrance and quickly becomes a beach-side drive of a song, a summer jam that smells like sunscreen and feels like sand between your toes. The slide guitar drips into your ears like a ripe pineapple. “Souvenirs” is a rich tapestry of guitar that carries a reserved melody that causes a listener to lean forward, like you want to hear it better. Gentle in its careful criticism of society at large, singing “People tend to get ruthless / when they’re counting up their beans” the song maintains a feeling of communion in the midst of the world’s chaos, adding that “secretly the world belongs to us / secretly we all belong”.
The production quality of the album is impressive, the band arrangements are delicious and McAdam is a full-blown wordsmith, with lyrics both clever and haunting. The movement between tracks is thoughtful, songs come at you in the perfect order and swirl around your ears before seeping into your mind. The 11 song album is strong from start to finish, and is sure to add color to your autumn months in blushing reds and yellows.