Something spectacular is happening in Burlington on Thursday, May 8. Namely, Sean Witters and his band Invisible Homes will celebrate the release of their new full-length album, Song for My Double, with a free concert at Club Metronome. In a city whose music scene is rife with DJs and jam bands, the noteworthy power-pop compositions and contemporary rock arrangements on Song for My Double provide a welcome break for fans of R.E.M. and Wilco. But don't be misled. This is not just another adult-alternative album for Dad to listen to while he mows the lawn.
Nothing is left to formula in the album's patchwork of styles and genres. Between catchy grunge and jazzy guitar licks are moments of Afrobeat and complete ambience. But whether it be the straightforward nods to Arcade Fire, the Flaming Lips or Television on tracks such as "Little Song" and "Above the Frequency," or the deeper territory that the second half of the album explores, one thing is certain: Every second of Song for My Double makes you rethink the limits of pop music.
With precision and gusto, Invisible Homes pull off psychedelic-rock the same way My Morning Jacket would on "This Machine." Here, Witters takes aim at bureaucrats, exclaiming, "This machine builds fascists and it keeps them on track/ It fills them up with television salt-filled snacks." Then, as he urges, "You should step back from the edge," the music switches from riff to space to match the political confusion that drives the lyrics. A quick tempo change towards the end mirrors the anxiety that surrounds 21st-century affairs for many of us.
"Contemplating the Ivory," which features local West African funk-fusion band Barika, among other local giants, grooves like the Afrobeat band Antibalas. But this song offers much more than self-indulgent funk. With artfulness and import, Witters satisfies the primordial impulse to dance.
There is a difference between "cool" music and great music. To my mind, greatness in music is often a function of restraint and deliberateness. And Song for My Double is full of both. Even the extended, post-jazz guitar solo of "One on the Skyline" is not excessive. Instead, it stays in line with the rest of the album, painting beautiful emotion and imagery before it segues softly in the pure, ambient sounds of "No One." There, Songfor My Double is left to settle into the space between your ears.