Saturday, November 13, 2010

José González - In Our Nature (2007) Album Review

I was recommended to José González' In Our Nature no earlier than 2008, but I only got to listening to him quite recently. A long time coming, thanks to our not-so-harmonious first meeting. At the time of introduction, I thought the album was pretty lo-fi, and I've always been somewhat prejudiced to all things lo-fi. However, I did like it to a certain degree despite the "static hum" sonically plastered with the songs throughout the album, but I grew distracted with other music, other things shinier, other things more polished, and ultimately, things I probably didn't care enough to remember. I did set the record aside ever-so-gently (and by that I mean letting it get lost in my cluttered MP3 folder as opposed to being sent to the recycle bin) and off I went to greener pastures. That hiatus would end a few months ago, as I dug this record out. I've been listening since.

As an acoustic artist, he reminds me of Nick Drake - but not as gentle nor as pleasant. José González' music has this certain abrasiveness and rawness to it, and it gives the record its core appeal - nay - his greatest and most defining appeal, in fact. And I can imagine the luck of those dreamers and film-makers who happen to stumble upon his "dimension" of music and use it to amplify their own thoughts and imaginations. There's just an endless stream of profound imagery to be had - one seemingly inherent to great melodramatic motion pictures. The music just oozes with that 'it' factor - whether for film or dreams.

José González
I actually see José González as some kind of disciplinarian here. The songs are about human nature - in all its meanderings and irrationalities (hence the album title), and it scolds you for being so damn... uh... "human". Ironically, he doesn't sound like some douchebag when he does it. It's cleverly veiled with the gentle plucks of the acoustic guitar, and the strangely "prophetic" sound of his voice. The whole ensemble is pretty effective and I can't help but take heed.

In How Low, he sings about selfishness and how someday "you'll end up to your knees in the shit you seed". That's an album opener for you. In Killing For Love, he proclaims "what's the point of a love that makes you hate and kill for?". Kind of reminds you of some religious sect doesn't it? And in Cycling Trivialities, he talks time and how much of it people waste on petty stuff on a day to day basis - stuff that probably won't matter in a couple of years. Like he says, it's in our nature. But nonetheless, the song proclaims a resounding "reassess! reassess! reassess!", an implorement for one's desire for self-improvement - as has always been for people who are motivated enough to be better than their current selves, even if it only exists in their minds. Also check out his cover of Teardrop by Massive Attack, quite magnificent, I must say.

This is an album you will want to continually play over and over again, if you give it a chance and if you're not previously being too rigid like I was. As of today, I can't count the times my iPod reverted back to the intro riff of How Low without feeling I've had enough.

My score:
8 out of 10

Other stuff:
Down The Line Music Video

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