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June Gloom - "Fake Problems" | Album Review

by Cole Kinsler (@dustetc)

On his Bandcamp page Washington, D.C. local Jesse Paller includes a link to the Wikipedia article on where his project, June Gloom, gets its name. Detailing the cloudy, overcast weather pattern that typically covers southern California in late spring, it’s a fitting name to place on his musical output; Paller’s understated guitar songs emanate a rainy feeling of yearning and melancholy. It’s music that would be complemented by the steady sound of a hard rain’s pattering on one's roof. Fake Problems (out on CS via Funeral Sounds) is June Gloom’s debut full length, following last year’s promising pair of EPs. 

Album opener “Get Free” sets the tone for what’s to come: “Gotta get free from people around me / then maybe I won’t be as lonely,” Paller sings while the track’s lone guitar intro sinks into its groove. As the music grows in passion and volume, the opening sentiments are repeated throughout. “I’ll miss you but not like I miss me / you can’t share a feeling with just anybody” he continues. Layered guitars build in the song’s climax, bringing a wave of unease that mirror the song’s repeated mantra. Lyrical themes of feeling disconnected and fatigued with humanity continue throughout the record. “URL” encapsulates the discontent felt when observing the barrage of ingenuous facades that so many people put forward on social media. The track’s rolling progression builds into a frenzied guitar solo that leads into its biggest chorus. What starts as an intimate whisper in “Dealer,” ultimately stretches into a beautiful proclamation of voice and guitars. Paller pines for a deeper, but nameless sense of happiness and contentment. “I want something you don’t have” he repeats until the song comes to an end.

Jesse Paller has the rare talent of utilizing rather simple means to build interesting and affecting songs. While listening to Fake Problems, I couldn’t help but be reminded of some similar favorites of mine: Elliott Smith and Alex G. This is the type of music that only needs a raw guitar sound, paired with simple bass and drums. There are no heavy-handed production flourishes or fancy recording techniques at play here. Paller’s understated croons and catchy guitar patterns shine through on every track. Heartfelt, genuine songwriting is the true essence of June Gloom, and Fake Problems is the perfect record to put on for a moment of solitude and introspection. It’s an album about feeling let down, feeling frustrated, and feeling human.