Album Review: The Muscle Relaxers
The Muscle Relaxers
Bedrooms are quiet places we recede to in order to escape everyone else’s version of the world and create our own. They are where our own ideals for living can be realized. Generally, one is only shown the bedroom of another as a display of intimacy. Being shown the bedroom recordings of another is a similarly intimate experience.
Little Heart collects 10 years worth of bedroom (and garage) recordings from Thomas Farrell’s solo project The Muscle Relaxers. With a few exceptions, the songs were written and performed entirely by Tom. You may know him from former Bellingham pop darlings Language Arts, current Bellingham pop darlings Go Slowpoke, or Skagit Valley pop Darlings The Daffodils. Chances are, if the hook is something you seek out as a consumer of Northwestern Washington music, you’ve probably had a run-in or two with Tom. But do you really know Tom.
If you answer honestly and your answer is no, giving Little Heart a spin would be a good place to start.
Usually bedroom records are snapshots of specific points in the life of the artist, but Little Heart is the snapshot of a decade. For being a compilation it is extremely cohesive. Most songs are based around Tom’s voice and a classical guitar, and often supplemented with a second guitar and vocal harmonies. The outro of “The Will to Survive,” one of the album’s cornerstones, features a devastatingly pining lead guitar line. Whether it’s a specific person or the idea of a specific person that’s being pined for is irrelevant. The two are conflated in the solitude of the bedroom.
Songs like “Never Learn Not to Love Me” (meant as a command) come from a much quieter place, and then there’s “What You Wanted,” which comes complete with drums and power chords. Little Heart contains quiet multitudes, and there’s plenty to be explored.
You should get to know Tom. He’s a good guy.