Micah McCaw manages to stride between the modern and retrospective on his sophomore LP, Imbalances. This is an album bound to stump the most relentless of genre scholars; indeed, McCaw speed-dates with blues, psychedelic, alt-rock, math rock, and prog. The 14-track 48-minute behemoth reminds us that size DOES matter – that is, when crafting thoughtful, intricate music. And in an age where the LP format is increasingly unpopular, a return to the “classic” album is much welcomed.
Admittedly, Imbalances may not be the most immediately-palatable release for many people. It’s a bit quirky at times. It’s hugely-dynamic, changing pace at breakneck speed. That’s not a bad thing at any stretch – instead, it leaves an impression of in medias res. The disorientation wears off after a bit and the audience is left with an artfully-crafted album permeated with plenty of groove.
The album definitely feels like a narrative experience, with several tracks coupled with reposes of sorts. It’s a supposed liturgical call-and-response, especially in the case of “Dogs” and “Tails”, where McCaw inquires, “Has all hope been destroyed? Are you singing with joy?” before introducing a hallelujah refrain. Even though the journey feels frenetic, things never feel disharmonious on the larger scale. That’s impressive for an album of this magnitude.
In spite of its title, Imbalances feels balanced lyrically, melodically, rhythmically, and spiritually. It’s an incredibly impressive album that feels so fresh and unique compared to most modern bands. It’s artful but not pretentious. McCaw speaks with both wisdom and humility. The songs flow dynamically but it always feels natural. If you’re a fan of complex bluesy prog-rock then this album definitely deserves a listen.