Lungs For The Race
After a handful of highly praised singles, compilation appearances and a brilliant instrumental EP, Havergal comes forth with its debut full-length. An opus three years in the making, LUNGS FOR THE RACE is a true loner of a record, a desolate and static-y transmission from somewhere between our distant past and our distant future. Fusing the skewed pop sensibility of Modest Mouse, and the lo-fi electronics of Piano Magic and Arab Strap, Havergal seems propped on the crest of something new and exciting. With the four-track revolution of the 80's and 90's shimmering in the cultural rearview mirror, Havergal waves in a new era of bedroom songwriters. Yes, we are now in a digital world of zipdisc 8-tracks, 16-bit samplers and drum machines. But all is not lost and forgotten. On LUNGS FOR THE RACE the new textures and technology melds with the old standby's of thin guitars, pawn shop rhodes and the same modern daily challenges that have been on the backs of people living in the Now since the Stone Age. It's actually a comfort to know that in the everchanging tides of time, there's still so much to be uncertain about. From the heart of Texas, Havergal has appeared in our midst like a modern treatise on the state of the ageless America, negotiating the gulf between tradition and progress like a young gosling shuffling about with the grace of the great tumbleweed diaspora. The album tackles themes heavily weighed down by the American condition (disillusionment and waning dignity in a bored and monotonous landscape, unfulfilled and unrequited love in a sprawling and mostly-empty emotional basin, among other dreadful thematic afflictions). Yet we still hesitate to describe this record as a distinctly American work. Moreso, LUNGS FOR THE RACE feels like an American album made through a European lens -- a 46-minute Wenders-like portraiture. It is indeed a minimalist pop masterwork, The Last Picture Show with a drum machine beat and a cleanly-toned guitar along with the most probing of intentions. Havergal principal Ryan Murphy is not one to let the day pass slowly. Aside from all the tune-smithing, he runs the Texas-based Western Vinyl label (which released Havergal's first two singles), and spends his days as an architect.
(SC028 released: 04/02/01)