Listening to Andrew Paley’s Sirens is an experience, one I have few words by which to describe. Usually I am apt to namedrop genres or inspirations from past artists that I might find blended into someone’s creation. I can’t do that in this instance. Sure, one could note essences of Phil Collins or Jets to Brazil, but these are minor; it bears only a passing resemblance even to Paley’s own post-punk project, The Static Age. Honestly, I don’t know with what to compare this album, nor do I want to try as it would only demean the work for what it truly is. Yet as I fumble and bumble through the filing cabinet of my mind for descriptors, listening throughout each track again, only one single utterance continues to escape my lips:
Wonderful. Simply wonderful.
The album is not overly complicated in its approach. There are few noticeable fancy production techniques, little if any overdubbing, minimal effects – aside from copious helpings of reverb, which fills every note with a dreamy atmosphere. Likewise, the composition itself comprises of simple chords and little in terms of virtuosity. Nor are the lyrics rife with pseudo-poetic metaphor or dripping with silvery rhymes. Instead each song contains a gentle strength unlike any I have heard this year, coupled with living descriptions that make the most mundane scenes feel like magic.
This is the part where I’m supposed to note the work’s highlights. But how can I do that when the whole album is a highlight in itself? From the opener “Come Home,” to its closing ballad, beautifully titled “Brick Red in the Sun,” there is not a single weak track on the entire recording. Every song feels like it fits within the work’s thematic narrative as a whole. Paley’s hoarse whisper carries us through with meditative grace.
Every song feels like it should accompany the ending to some great movie. There is no angst or sadness to be found, only a contentment with whatever may have transpired prior. These are the last moments before the credits roll, where the protagonist looks into the distance contemplatively, smiles, and walks away. Though the lyrics may ask questions, each song as a whole reflects a state of having already found one’s way, albeit maybe one through fire, and finally being ready to move forward.
After the mess that was 2016, all the stress, fear, anger, distrust, and pessimism, let this album take you someplace else. Someplace smooth and without hurt. If only for a little while.
Find a dimly lit room. Put your headphones on. Sit on the floor with this album and press play. Close your eyes. Just breathe. Keep breathing. You’ll thank me later.