As EZTV went gently into the hereafter, without much fuss or fury, the band’s spark didn’t necessarily get snuffed out completely. Songwriter Ezra Tenenbaum has taken the momentum of his previous band and channeled it into his solo/not-solo endeavor Ezrat. He enlists several sympathetic souls for the album, bringing Kyle Forester (Woods, Crystal Stilts), John Andrews (Hand Habits, Cut Worms), and Michael Hesslein (Mail the Horse) on board for Carousel and they help carve the album into a lush slice of clear-blue pop. EZTV always rested on a fault line between power pop’s less turbulent (though by no means shallow) waters and jangle-pop’s more contemplative souls. Inject the sighed ennui of Chris Bell into mid-period works by The Chills and you’re starting to come close to what they’d achieved. Streak in a worn country soul on the second album and the band’s sound only got became that much more singular. Tenenbaum is still sorting through these influences as Ezrat and the decision to never completely pick a camp gives the album its rich appeal.
The opener, “Distortions,” is a jangled exhale of beautiful melancholy — streaked with sunset hues peeking through the rain. “Lost Sounds” swoons with strings, caught in a haze of lovesick harmonies and gentle plucks. While the rest of the album definitely relishes the grey-skied days in its temperament, the album doesn’t wallow. Carousel is hopeful in its heartbreak, more sweet than bitter, but it’s definitely pushing a lump down in its throat. Tenenbaum has spent years perfecting the right way to lament without pulling the listener down into despair and like High In Place before it, the album succeeds in being both a source of solace and hope. This one’s sneaking out a bit further below the radar than the last EZTV record, but that makes it the kind of charming gem that more people need to discover. If you were an EZTV fan, this is the next installment. If you’re simply a fan of well-crafted pop, then this might just open you up to a deep catalog of Tenebaum’s past pursuits as well.
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