Joshua Brown aka The Valentine recently released his debut self-titled album The Valentine. It’s a lo-fi experimental off-kilter album that has an energy to it that is all its own. Something about the album feels detached and it may be its use of reverb or it may be just the songs themselves. Dissonance is an element in the equation here. The Valentine is a album that requires some effort and time and that's not a bad thing.
He opens with “Drop One with Me” which is the clear highlight. It’s a dark, ominous sounding vibration and aesthetically isn’t far from a band like Portishead. His vocals sound great here and I was a fan of the de-tuned effects that were happening along with the jagged time changes.
“Self Esteem in the Back Seat” sounded like Mac Demarco if you were on a good amount of quaaludes. The song droops and feels like it’s melting. A similar melting vibe happens with “The Valentine.” His vocals are too buried here and I would have liked the recording to have a bit more separation.”Dream Sweetly” is a synth covered song that is aptly named while “The Descent” is an atmospheric piece that has a ’80s retro thematic feel to it.
“So I Heard You're Moving Soon…” moves like molasses as he breathes slowly into the mic and pieces together different elements that feel as if they could fall apart at any moment. The album continues to move at a snail's pace with “Strain of Thought” which eventually get some energy because of the drums.
As the album progresses it doesn't pick up much energy and continues to explore this hazy, atmosphere where nothing feels real and things move at half their normal speed.
On one hand I give Brown credit for creating a unique sound that feels original. That being said you need to have the discipline of a Buddhist monk to actively listen to this album all the way through in one sitting. I have to admit I was impressed the anti-energy in some of the songs. Brown has some talent and his least self indulgent experimentation happens on the very first song which has just the right amount avant-garde ambition mixed with songwriting.
The Valentine has some inspired moments along with moments where Brown may have benefited from a second set of ears. It sometimes feels as if Brown is getting lost in his own sounds and I kept thinking an experienced producer could help facilitate the sound that he almost has a realized grasp of. I’d say Brown is onto something with his sound and with some development could be turning a lot of heads. He is one to keep an eye on.
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