Not to go searching for cyphers, but it seems there’s a bit of a tell in the artwork to Glenn’s new LP under the Reds, Pinks & Purples name. Following a repress of the Anxiety Art release on Tough Love last year, Glenn’s worked up a Sarah Records level identity to his releases, documenting the vibrant colors around San Francisco’s Richmond District. All of his covers save for Summer At Land’s End are crisp architectural shots, but here the structure is pushed to the background, and the flower in the foreground shaken, smudged, a blurred image that lacks the measured sense of his other covers. So too is there a departure in the music on SALE. The jangles still purr like an engine beneath Donaldson’s pop vignettes, but the songs are likewise smeared with gauzy guitars and aural obfuscation.
The record’s themes, more than others in his recent series, deal with the instability of love. There are tales of incompatibility, lying to oneself, the decay and acceptance of love’s end. The twist of anguish ripples through this album, fogging up the speakers, streaking the soul like rainfall against panes. Now you’d be hard pressed to find songs in the RPP catalog that don’t have just a touch of bittersweet blur to them, but here, like the bloom on the cover, Glenn lets love shake the songs. He embraces the fog of doubt, laying back in the mist rather than fighting his way out. It’s a subtle shift for the band, but one that gives the record its own unique place in his musical menagerie.
If you’ve been tracing the tears of RPP, then this feels like a perfect place to land in 2022. Somber plumes nestle in a familiar jangle, meeting in the middle ground as a frame for heartache. The record is wrapped in a feeling of watching taillights pull away, but knowing that its for the best. The admitted lean on ‘90s 4AD can be felt on SALE, the strums lost in the foam of Pale Saints and Cocteaus with just a touch of Ultra Vivid Scene’s pop bounce (though on a much more subdued level). These albums are beginning to form a kind of jangle-pop quilt, and its quite possible that the cloudy ennui of Summer at Land’s End may be the thread pulling them all together.
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