While We’re Warm
I have always felt that certain records sound like certain seasons. Upper Narrows’ debut, While We’re Warm, feels distinctly like a fall record. The title is perfect for its mid-October release here in Maine, and the autumnal vibe is reflected in the music itself. It’s in the pace (slower than summer’s manic energy, but not as sleepy as winter) and the texture (the beats are warm, but pop) of these 10 new songs.
Upper Narrows is Portland musician Tyler Jackson’s synth-pop solo project. Jackson’s previous bands include indie-rock outfits Foam Castles and Golden Rules the Thumb. You can hear the influence of those projects in While We’re Warm, which is full of melodic riffs and poppy hooks, yet Jackson ventures into new, experimental synth-pop territory with this record.
This result is airy, ambient and catchy. “I felt a lot of inspiration from beat-oriented, trance-y art pop,” Jackson told the music website Blood Makes Noise. “Very specifically, the Eno/Cale album Wrong Way Up. The Russian artist Kate NV influenced some key production methods which I ran with. I wanted to get lost in druggy synth sounds and very simple programmed beats while keeping one foot firmly planted in the pop world.”
While We’re Warm has a nice arc to it, and the deeper into the album I got, the more I liked it. My favorite tracks appear toward the end. “Sandrine Unsung” has a solid groove. “You make me slow down,” Jackson repeats at its end — another nod to the transition into colder weather. “Dark Raver” is playful and different, with a Latin-inspired beat and spoken word. “Player’s Heaven” is an instrumental track that has an ’80s video-game vibe to it. Former bandmates Tyler Quist (keys and some guitars) and drummer Jonas Eule help Jackson fill out the sound, and Dana Guth graces two tracks with her vocals.