Only two days now until Fred Thomas releases Aftering, the final installment of an album trilogy that has proven to be a career renaissance for the Detroit musician. All Are Saved and Changer set a high bar for the songwriter, but his singles from the new project, “Good Times Are Gone Again” and “House Show Late December,” have shown him to still be in top form.
Thomas remains a master of punchy and verbose indie rock tracks that barrage your brain with so much information you don’t realize you’re body’s caught up in the beat. “Altar,” the album’s final advance track, is another prime example of that talent. This stretch of releases found Thomas buying into a stream-of-consciousness narrative approach similar to what Mark Kozelek and Phil Elverum have been doing in recent years. But whereas those guys apply their logorrhea to shapeless, impressionistic songs that feel like borrowed memories, Thomas tends toward tightly structured bursts that bring back fond memories of the Dismemberment Plan.
On “Altar,” which features backing vocals from fellow Detroit DIY veteran Anna Burch, Thomas crams a lot of syllables into a jumpy little guitar-pop track. It’s a short story set five years ago, beginning like so: “The fall colors came the same in 2013 as any other year that we had ever scene, but the entire town felt like an altar then.” In director Ben Collins’ video, multiple versions of Thomas and band face off in a park, apparently tracing the passage of time from that idyllic era to now. Watch below.
Aftering is out 9/14 on Polyvinyl. Pre-order it here.