The Saxophones – “New Tradition” (Stereogum Premiere)

Husband and wife duo Alexi Erenkov and Alison Alderdice are the Saxophones. They manage to deftly update ’50s pop ballad melancholia with efficient, sparse interjections of smooth woodwind flourishes, intricate percussion, and sampler work. Their quickly approaching EP If You’re On The Water is a beautiful collection of songs spawned from unlikely, dire circumstances. Erenkov and his father were riding 70 MPH in a fishing boat on Lake Shasta when they hit a swell and were both thrown overboard. Neither one was wearing a life jacket. Alexi broke his femur upon hitting the water, and his father was badly bruised. They treaded water until they were rescued by a passing ski boat. A week later, Erenkov’s father’s friend committed suicide completely shocking Erenkov and his father as they recovered from the accident. So the title of the EP takes on an entirely new meaning when placed into that grave context.

“New Tradition” is the second single from the EP, and while it is aptly titled to symbolize the duo cleverly bringing decades-old sounds into the present, it also has astute commentary on the contrasting nature of furthering traditions in a time when they are no longer relevant. Erenkov delivers witty reflection in a deadpan, lackadaisical manner that belies their significance and creates a wonderful unresolved tension that is amplified by the room it’s given to reverberate in the chasmic arrangement. Here’s what the duo had to say about the song:

“New Tradition” is primarily an abstract meditation on practice and ritual, a passing glance at the paradoxical desire to move forward in a universe that appears to have no direction. The seemingly apathetic and resigned lyrical delivery is buoyed by saxophone accompaniment in the first half of the song and left to sink in the second until the last line in which a chorus of flutes accent one of the few sentiments this songwriter is certain of: he’s quick to judge.

Listen below.

If You’re On The Water is out 7/19.