On Spencer Radcliffe’s 2015 full-length debut, Looking In, the young musician focused on the interior, mulling over feelings of inequity, anxiety, and imperfection with a patient level-headedness. His follow-up, Enjoy The Great Outdoors, expands beautifully outwards, maintaining his singular voice while inviting some outsiders in to bolster his already endearing sound. Billed as Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else, Enjoy The Great Outdoors feels warm and ambitious, and songs like “In The Clear” and early single “Wrong Turn” demonstrate the group’s knack for delightfully rambling woodsy anthems. The former is a particular highlight on which Radcliffe adopts a sing-speaking laidback cadence that’s he’s utilized a couple times before, always to memorable effect — “Hope, faith, knowing, fear/ Smoking gun, the end is near,” he sings atop an echo of voices.
Radcliffe is fixated on mortality for much of the album, digging into the idea of life as one big cosmic joke. On “Long Con,” he pulls back the curtain to dramatic effect: “The other actors laugh and say ‘Hey, how does it feel to know your off of the hook? You did it all by the book and it’s a pretty nice deal!'” As a writer, Radcliffe seems concerned with what happens when you step outside of life’s predetermined path. These aberrations are often represented here by nature allegories, like on “Breezy” where he lists the ways it’s wearing him down — “The wind is testing my trust, a gust is shaking the walls, this breeze is busting my chops” — or on closing track “Static Electricity,” where nothing will keep him from getting back to where he’s supposed to be: “Let it glide right over me/ You know I’m coming home whether it’s bright and sunny, dark and stormy, or cloudy.”
Enjoy The Great Outdoors explores how the open road can feel both limiting and limitless, and it does so through some of Radcliffe’s sharpest and most ingenious songwriting yet. Radcliffe’s songs tend to be sprawling and circuitous, which means his music could be qualified as a slow-burn, but it’s one that’s well worth putting some extra time into. Listen to the full album below.
Enjoy The Great Outdoors is out 5/12 via Run For Cover.