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The Party
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  • By the time Andy Shauf's lonesome prairie pop debut, Bearer of Bad News, had reached the rest of the world, the Saskatchewan native had nearly completed recording his similarly intricate follow-up. After receiving a small-scale Canadian release in 2012, the album went on to make critical waves three years later thanks to a reissue by American indie Tender Loving Empire. Just over a year later comes The Party, another hyper-detailed set of literate indie pop songs produced and almost entirely performed by Shauf. The ten loosely conceptual vignettes revolve around the characters at a party, presumably in the microcosm of small-town Saskatchewan. As he displayed on his debut, Shauf has a knack for creating a lived-in, intimate world and his carefully constructed pop arrangements support his provincial narratives and observations. With the hushed darkness of Elliott Smith and the ornate sophistication of the High Llamas, he unfurls tales of jealousy, drunken confessions, humiliations, and burdensome early arrivals. The production is meticulously crafted and strangely dry, with paper-thin drums that pop as lightly as plucked guitar strings and warm clarinet stacks weaving in and out. While there are definitely standouts, like the elegant opener "The Magician" and the jangling "The Worst in You," The Party requires the patience to be digested in its full form. In terms of craft and vision, Shauf has got both in spades, and while stylistically similar to his debut, he's made adjustments and broken new ground here as well. His idiosyncratic, mumbled vocal delivery might occasionally make understanding the lyrics a bit of a challenge, but it's also one of his unique distinctions and with The Party, he's added another strong outing to his canon. ~ Timothy Monger
Professional Reviews
Paste (magazine) - "Shauf is a multi-instrumentalist and self-producing artist who creates meticulously crafted lush, ornate and sometimes orchestral arrangements."
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