by Nathan Springer (@drownloading)
Old Table is New York City’s best kept musical secret, and possibly the best kept secret in indie rock as a whole. Since 2006, William Moloney has been cranking out ingenious pop songs, with an ease that indicates he could write these things in his sleep. Will’s earnest, ramshackle approach to songwriting culminated in Old Table’s magnum opus, 2015’s aptly titled Save the Environment. A single, “Co Own and Operate Your Local Supermarket NOW!!,” was released in 2016, after which Old Table announced they would be disbanding.
Luckily, Will has found a new outlet for his spontaneous pop gems in the form of Climax Landers, a group composed of Will, Paco Cathart (The Cradle, Big Neck Police, Sweet Baby Jesus), Charlie Dore-Young (The Gradients, Sweet Baby Jesus), and Ani Ivry-Block (Palberta, Shimmer). Their self-titled debut opens with the best self-referential anthem I’ve heard since “Theme From Krill”, the aptly titled “Climax Landers”. “Two guitars, bass and drums/You climax landing son of a gun”: these nonsensical lines are the first sung words you hear on the album, following an endearing bit of studio chatter centering around how the album will open with said studio chatter. All of Old Table’s pop chops are intact, elevated even, but the lyrics veer from Old Table’s political leanings to abstract video game references (Climax Landers is lifted from the title of a Dreamcast JRPG), emotional outbursts, and Beat-esque poetry.
Will’s ear for melody is definitely accentuated by the group’s other members. Paco’s lead guitar lines add a healthy dose of rock ‘n roll gusto to Climax Landers’ already bursting youthful energy, and Charlie and Ani’s handling of the rhythm section adds extra layers of melody and color. The songs range from blaring indie rock (“Up on a Hillside”, “Flip Out First”, “What Can I Say?”), reminescent of Guided by Voices and Built to Spill, to more somber, subdued numbers (“Free Thought”, “Silhouette Mirage”, “Charles’ House”), which allow the stream-of-consciousness lyrics to take the forefront. Elsewhere, the album takes more experimental turns: “Pray for All Muslims” is a droning, rambunctious political statement, “Titmouse” ventures into symphonic pop, and “Azure Dreams” (another video game reference) is a sparse spoken word poem. The album ends with a reprise of the title track, driving home the fact that this band is a force to be reckoned with.
Climax Landers’ debut has me excited to see where Will takes the beautiful chaos of his music to next. This album has twists and turns, emotional ups and downs, and moments that nearly had me tearing up: everything you’d expect from a songwriter who has reached a point where skill, sincerity, and clarity meet and seem to keep growing and growing with no signs of stopping.