Jon Auer – Songs from the Year of Our Demise
purchase this album (Amazon)
Despite having made a Posies detour in Bootleg City a few weeks back, I’ve never been a big fan of the band; matter of fact, aside from having owned a cassette copy of Frosting on the Beater, I’ve never listened to any of their albums. And since the consensus regarding the Big Star “reunion” album seemed to run pretty solidly toward the “suck” end of the spectrum, I never bothered to check it out.
All of which is to say that listening to Songs from the Year of Our Demise, Jon Auer’s full-length solo debut, has been a pleasant surprise for yours truly.
It isn’t without its problems, chief among them its absurd fifteen-song length. Some acts can get away with cramming fifteen songs into an album; Auer isn’t one of them. As a result, Demise winds up being an intermittently entertaining mess instead of the glorious pop masterpiece it could have been. You might not think an extra five tracks could make all that much difference. You would be wrong. After the incredible one-two opening punch of “Six Feet Under” (download) and “Bottom of the Bottle” (download), Demise drifts off into ponderous territory — the sixth song, “You Used to Drive Me Around,” is over seven minutes in length — before settling back in around track 8.
And though the rest of the album is good, it isn’t as great as it needs to be to make up that lost ground. The brand of pop Auer tries to evoke — Raspberries, Big Star — relies on hooks and economy, both of which are absent or in short supply for long stretches. Nevertheless, when it’s good, it’s quite good. Not many people are even trying to make albums like the one Demise wants to be, and that’s worth something. Go out and order the album, cut it down to your favorite ten songs, and pretend the rest are part of an import EP or maxi-single or something.