Something about TW Walsh’s Fruitless Research makes me think of sunsets. With the exception of its weak opening track “Public Radio,” TW Walsh has somehow managed to capture, in music, the sensation of gazing at a sky stained pink by fading sunlight. Fruitless Research is a cool and laid-back album that’s every bit as lush as the celestial blush of daytime’s departure. And while the album has multiple virtues, the greatest strength of Fruitless Research is its compositional sophistication. Aside from the aforementioned opening track, TW Walsh has crafted an assemblage of knock-out tunes.
After mentioning my gripe with the opening track twice in the previous paragraph, I figure I owe you a little more detail. For starters, the first track’s beat fell flat with me. Alongside a drum loop, there’s synthesizer chords and bass. However, there’s a bit too much space between the synth and bass, giving the track a very “empty” feeling. But what really kills the track for me is the vocals. TW Walsh layered on modulators to give the vocals a lo-fi, “roboty” sound. Sadly, it makes the singing sound painfully tinny, like an extreme version of Daft Punk. Not exactly my cup of tea.
Happily though, that’s the extent of my complaints. After 30 or so seconds of the second track, “Shallow Water,” my woes were forgotten. From that point on, Fruitless Research went from poor to powerful. Throughout the remainder of the album, TW Walsh does an excellent job of letting songs grow. As a song goes on, new instruments come in, slowly enriching the tune and expanding the range of notes and sounds in the track without becoming oppressively thick, thanks to the excellent production quality. But wonderfully, the songs tend not to sound hollow at the start, while still leaving room for aural expansion. Consequently, tracks start out satisfying and grow to become even more satisfying. It’s like eating a hamburger and finding out, after taking a bite, that the hamburger is full of $100 bills.
2016 has hardly started, but TW Walsh is starting the year in a strong way. Contrary to its name, there’s nothing fruitless about Fruitless Research. It’s slickly produced and stuffed to the gills with immensely well-written songs. Fruitful Research comes highly recommended, especially to fans of indie rock and shoegaze. And even if that doesn’t quite describe you, give it a listen anyway. You might find, like me, songs that you’ll be coming back to for ages to come.
*Images from Noisy Ghost PR