American Music Club The Golden Age

[Merge; 2008]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: Americana, folk pop, indie rock
Others: Buffalo Tom, Red House Painters, Giant Sand,Mojave 3

“If you love someone/ Set them free.”

Such a tacky lyric for a tacky sentiment, but it clearly carries weight considering it’s a much-meditated mantra for those coming to grips with the end of a relationship. Clutching your knees in the corner, swinging back and forth, fighting back the tears, and hoping that tonight you’ll grab 15 minutes of uninterrupted sleep — for all its glory, love is a bitch.

Of course, we could all embrace our inner Mark Eitzel and drink ourselves in and out of a fruitful relationship, only to sober up and realize we need to return to our beloved and fight for love. In Eitzel’s case, we were treated to the re-emergence of perennial darkhearts, American Music Club.

It’s been four years since the San Francisco-based collective returned to critical acclaim with Love Songs for Patriots, an album that found the boys continuing where they left off a decade earlier. Never has a group’s name been so indicative of a wide swatch of music found release after release.

The magical trip continues with the group’s latest offering, The Golden Age. AMC explore pop, rock, and country throughout 13 glistening tracks. While the band have shed much of their aggressive musical past, they are able to bring an edge to a wealth of genres that otherwise struggle with balancing a new audience with an older, AOR-accessible set. But with the dial glued to AM, American Music Club thrive as they carve out their own brand of light Americana. Tracks such as “Who You Are” and “The Sleeping Beauty” lend more to Martin Page and Bernie Taupin than Eitzel’s punk roots, but shunning elegant music because it could be a hit to the over-50 set would prove a narrow view to AMC’s expansive landscape. To be soshortsighted would mean missing the angst-as-waltz “I Know That’s Not ReallyYou” or the indie kitsch of “On My Way.”

As it’s turned out, AMC’s break-up and make-up has continued to benefit the collective. The Golden Age is an encyclopedia of modern music, and though AMC may be getting older and a bit softer, ignoring their ability to produce some of the most thought-provoking music out of any style is ignoring music’s rich tapestry.

“Free, free/ Set them free.”

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