Looper - Offgrid:Offline

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2015-04-17

After an absence of more than a decade, Looper have returned with a new album, Offgrid:Offline, and they're just as sweet and charming as ever. Listening to the set, one could be forgiven for thinking only a year or two had passed since 2002's The Snare. Either the band pulled a Rip Van Winkle or didn't listen to a single musical note in the interim. The continuity is that strong.

Offgrid:Offline is bookended with a pair of matching songs. 'Intro (Down the Lane)' ranks with 'Up a Tree Again' as one of the sweetest tunes the band has produced, with light casioesque beats, flutey chords, and a simple keyboard melody all backing Frontman Stuart David's breathy voice. This opening track is mirrored at the end of the album with the equally beautiful reprise of 'Outro (TipToe Home)'.

The album's 'single', if such a thing exists anymore, is 'Farfisa Song', an upbeat, bouncy blast of 1960s folk-rock; its groovy organ work will have you reaching for your tie-dyed bandana. Meanwhile, songs like 'Waiting for Trains' and 'The Lucky Bird' slow things down and focus on the piano, using gentle tambourine for percussion, which gives much of the album a casual, outdoorsy feel.

David's vocals alternate between reedy, airy, American-accented singing, and quiet, thickly Scottish spoken-word sections. It's hard to believe it's the same person doing both. And the lyrics are packed with life-affirming optimism, as in 'What If...', a quiet little tune where David croons: "Let it go/ oh, let it go/ let it melt away with the snow." 'Images of the Shipwreck', one of the spoken tracks, notably departs from that norm; it's a lovely little piece featuring sweet strings and full of longing and sadness.

The title track, clocking in at over eight minutes, seems to be David's musical manifesto, with a steady, pensive piano melody backing his ruminations about the beautiful silence of nature. The philosophy, told more as a story, really makes it clear why Looper make such delicate, careful songs. 

Offgrid:Offline is aptly titled, as the album is a paean to the simple life, free of technology and in harmony with nature. Where once Looper was up a tree, now they're relaxing in its shade, weaving flower garlands and listening to the birds.

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