Riding in on a wave of nostalgia, Terrible Freedom, the latest LP from songwriter and producer TW Walsh, draws listeners in with its colorful, beachy melodies, but makes a compelling case to stay for the reciprocal way in which it addresses many of our hopes and fears.
Things kick off with “My Generation,” which treats us to spacey, Gilmour-esque guitar strumming before “Dropout” plunges us through layers of lush, shimmering synthesizer work. “Dead Landmines” with its squelchy synth lines and rich bass licks, cruises on a slower, more contemplative plane, while “Mt. Confusion” serves as one of the more upbeat, rock oriented tracks of the LP, offering the listener variety though not completely breaking the album’s consistency of sound. The sonic textures that Walsh offers up on this release immediately call to mind sun-soaked horizons and long, slow, summer night drives, and most of the tracks exemplify this aesthetic.
Equally important to the album’s integrity, however, are the lyrics that Walsh has conjured up. His reverb-drenched vocals deliver metaphors and parables which implores listeners to take a step back and allow ourselves to take comfort in the memories of simpler times, while simultaneously learning to accept and deal with the often volatile and, ultimately, inescapable nature of the present. Nostalgia is meant to be a coping mechanism here, not a total escape from reality, and that speaks to the maturity of the album’s message.
THE GIST: On the surface, Terrible Freedom is a laid back, synthesizer laden ride that should appeal to the aesthetic sensibilities of synth rock fans as well as those who long for the sounds of the sadly short-lived chillwave movement. By diving even deeper, however, listeners will be rewarded with a record that confronts and offers solutions to the social fears that many of us face in this modern age of ours.