Martin Crane - Physical Therapy

by Blaire Lund Rating:6 Release Date:2015-11-23

Physical Therapy is the first solo-outing of Austin-based band Brazos’ Martin Crane. He has reinvented himself on this release, which is a far cry from the indie folk of Brazos. Crane instead opts for a full-on radio-friendly, synth-dance identity. The songs on Physical Therapy fit right in with the current pop music dominating the charts, yet they display a level of sophistication and depth that is currently very lacking in the Top 40 music hits.

Crane first recorded this album as a live performance and then re-recorded the whole thing as a solo project using the program Ableton. He then combined the two recordings to create Physical Therapy, giving the album a unique sound that combines the excitement of a live band with the detached, electronic synth sounds that are so popular right now.

Catchy title track ‘Physical Therapy’ is led by a sexy saxophone and Crane trying out some reggae-style singing. ‘Physical Therapy’ sounds like modern calypso music with a jazzy edge. It’s a beachy, Caribbean inspired take on current pop music. Instrumental ‘Amanda’s House’ is another calypso-tinged xylophone heavy number.

Underneath ‘Modern World’ are spacey electronic noises that sound like they could have could have come out of a Mario video game on the Gameboy. For a song about the modern world, it sure has a sound reminiscent of the 1980’s. It’s another beach-centric number mentioning “pelicans” and the “surf”.

‘Gunk of Stars’ sounds like a song ready for the club when it begins, but it gets more interesting nearing the chorus. It’s got slightly more substance than the other songs with the fun lyrics, “I see Saturn and Mars, I see the gunk of stars, a camera flash in the dark”. This club song has more layers to it, though, with well-placed guitars breaking up the bouts of synth.

‘Gadesco’ is a slow-brimming number where Crane breaks in to tell the story of meeting a woman in her bedroom. This romantic song shows off Crane’s lyrical prowess, which is strong throughout the whole album and a highlight of it. This is possibly the most interesting song on the album. With a meandering keyboard and sexy singing, ‘Heaven is a Dancer’ is an intriguing pop song. Midway through rock guitars come in bringing some drama. This song proves itself another of the album’s highlights.  ‘Light Out’ features some high-pitched singing by Crane and lyrics about travelling. The tune has many interesting layers of sound. ‘Waterbed’ features more calypso noises and more video game sounds.

Though Physical Therapy features a lot of wild, electronic noises they seem very arranged and well-placed; they don’t just sound like they were thrown in there. I don’t know whether to call it a masterpiece for making current pop sounds palatable or a disaster for embracing them at all and ruining what could have been a great albumin terms of lyrics and vision. Is he a genius trying to infiltrate top 40 pop and give it substance and meaning, or is he a fool wasting his sizeable lyrical skill and skill at arrangements on very time-bound, fad-riding songs that are sure to sound dated in a few years’ time? As it is, Physical Therapy sounds like it’s trying to go in too many different directions all at once and all of the various influences don’t always mesh. This radio-friendly album sounds best when it’s not trying to sound like a dance album and shows its own interesting and quirky personality.

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