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Anyone with a shred of imagination and a penchant for dark thoughts has planned out their end-times scenario. Some fantasize about an off-grid compound, stocked with guns and toilet paper and canned soup — totally sensible, if boring. But what's the point of growing up on pop culture that has long fetishized the end of civilization if you can't think of something cool to do during the apocalypse?
Purcy Peaks has some pretty chill plans for the end of the world, at least judging by the soundtrack the Townshend-based musician and producer has put together. 2 Boot Goofin' is a 10-track, shiny-as-fuck instrumental record/manual for making the best of what's still around when the world is running down.
Starting with the full-on synthwave jam "Whoopsies," Peaks — real name John Henry Purcell — wastes no time establishing a fully realized world of spacey, surging synths and heavily processed beats. The aesthetic is so perfectly captured, it's hard not to envision a neon-streaked road stretching out into a futuristic horizon, cutting across an irradiated wasteland as the listener speeds through, bumping 2 Boot Goofin' to scare off the mutants.
"Hunk in the Trunk," takes a turn toward '70s funk, with little hints of jazz thrown in for good measure. The album makes clear that Purcell has plenty of tools in his songwriting bag; one of his strengths is his ability to dip in and out of a variety of styles and modes judiciously. A hallmark of a good self-producer is careful curation of an album's tonal shifts, which Purcell manages to navigate with taste. When he leans into space-age funk, such as on "Masters of Yearn," the results are particularly effective.
According to his Bandcamp page, Purcell spends eight to 12 hours a day writing and recording music at his home studio. Considering the songs on the record are so densely layered with flashes of progressive rock, Giorgio Moroder-style synth disco and even bits of sweeping, new-age colors, it's hardly surprising to learn that Purcell treats the studio like a mad scientist's laboratory. Occasionally, he'll cram all those disparate pieces together, as on tracks such as "Frisky Firsts" and the computer funk of "Steaming," yet the songs never feel bloated or confused. Rather, he blends everything into strangely exultant pieces of music.
Things take a turn for the strange with the penultimate track, "Enemies: A Terrible Concept." Over a bubbling rhythm of synth horns and a shuffling, glitched-out beat, Purcell takes an aural freak-out of a song and flips it into a gentle, classical piece. Perhaps it's meant to signal the end of the postapocalyptic road trip the album has been scoring, but there's still one last epitaph in the form of "Punchbowl Frogs." Though something of a sonic potpourri, as is much of the rest of the record, the final song carries a hint of melancholy in its string arrangement and collection of blips and beeps, like an abandoned computer terminal signing off.
2 Boot Goofin' is streaming now at purcypeaks.bandcamp.com.