Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Honestly, if you think about, the indie rock universe needs another somber male singer like it needs a hole in the head. Patrick Phelan's new album Cost combines aspects of his close musical relatives Elliott Smith, Jeff Buckley, and Nick Drake with the shoegazing etherialism influenced by My Bloody Valentine and The Smiths, and tops it off with a glaze of the echoey Americana of Karate. The end product is a collection of haunting tales of love, life ,and well, melancholy. And really, there's nothing like melancholy to pick you up on a wet winter day!

"Favor" starts with a Ferment-era Catherine Wheel tone of anxiety and anticipation that builds throughout the song — you sit there waiting for the inevitable release of musical tension in a wall of distorted guitars. Phelan, like a jilted lover, never lets us have that release and you can't turn away, expecting it to arrive at any moment. This tone of apprehension permeates Cost. Combine that with the overarching sense of loss found in "Ruin" and "Sails Descending," you wonder if poor ol' Patrick ever left the studio with a smile on his face. "Sails Descending" captures a similar sound as if Elliot Smith took over The Decemberists, with eerie violin echoing through the stripped-down guitar. The most sonically complex song on the album, "Through the Bedroom Walls", is equal parts Smith, Smiths, and Jeff Buckley, meaning if you're already having a bad day, don't go there. He closes Cost with "Fall," which appears to be a ode to regret: "I could have walked away" reverberates throughout the song and you realize that Phelan might be the villain in this story from the start.

Phelan's album continues the long indie-rock traditional of, as Nick Hornby called it, sad bastard music. Cost is an excellent companion in a dark, basement apartment when you head is full of thoughts of lost lovers and missed opportunities. However, Cost transcends the gloom of basement and wraps you in its sonic texture. You're left thinking, "You got My Bloody Valentine on my Elliott Smith!" and wondering why they didn't do it sooner.