Pat Keen - Albatross [LP/Cassette]
Any of a family (Diomedeidae) of large web-footed seabirds that have long slender wings, are excellent gliders, and include the largest seabirds
Something that causes persistent deep concern or anxiety
Something that greatly hinders accomplishment: encumbrance
Pat Keen's Albatross LP is an 11-track exercise in stretching the conventions of homemade-pop. Currently a member of Chicago-based, avant-rock outfit Wei Zhongle and formerly a touring member of Ryan Power's band and Guerilla Toss, the 24-year old musician has spent the past few years touring the country and honing his craft while contributing to a thriving, nationwide experimental-rock scene. Now Minneapolis-based, Albatross shows Pat Keen moving from self-produced 4-track tape recording (as on 2015's Leaving EP) toward a more fleshed-out vision of a personal brand of bedroom-rock.
Recorded throughout 2016, Albatross is performed almost entirely by Keen himself. The record began to take shape during the tail end of a 4-month long retreat in New Hampshire, during which time Keen studied guitar and music theory in Brattleboro, VT with Chris Weisman. Featuring guest vocals from the likes of Adelyn Rose's Addie Strei, and other American midwest-based songwriters, Pat Keen's music hints at an underlying pop-sensibility while not shying from experimental influences. The instrumental texture of the record is highly nuanced, as Keen employs all possible timbres from an accompaniment of acoustic and electric guitars, bass and drums. Albatross also shows Keen making a concerted effort to deliver a virtuosic vocal performance. In preparation, he trained his vocals with Minnesota-based musician J.E. Sunde.
"I write my lyrics from a rhythmic/sound standpoint at first and then things just flow out and end up totally meaning something," Keen says regarding his writing style. Tracks like "Chappy Coat" and "Wannabes" boldly embody this concept, with each musical / lyrical phrase standing as a distinct statement within the larger groove of the track. As a result, Keen's music mixes meters, employs chromatic, jazz-influenced harmonies and volleys between quiet, tender moments and dramatic swells. Thematically, the record shows Keen confronting his past and his changing relationships with his family and friends in the face of a move back to his native midwest. Tracks like "idk" and "Sore Thumb" analyze the peaceful end of a romantic relationship, the first that Keen says “didn’t end like a tornado”. The record is dedicated to Pat Keen's mother.