NEPHEW IN THE WILD by Advance Base

Nephew in the Wild

Genre: Lo-Fi Indie, Indietronica

Favorite Tracks: “Might of the Moose”, “Summon Satan”

There is nothing more frustrating than a band member who breaks away to form a solo project that sounds exactly the same. Why the exercise in vanity? Why risk alienating the old fan base? Why not dip your toes out of your comfort zone and welcome new creative avenues and collaborations? Although Owen Ashworth always favored solo projects, these questions still plague his new LP NEPHEW IN THE WILD, his second release under the Advance Base moniker after inexplicably switching away from the Casiotone for the Painfully Alone identification that brought him fame. While Casiotone for the Painfully Alone was frank, understated, and often devastating, NEPHEW IN THE WILD is a fundamentally boring album that offers up lukewarm rehashes of the melancholic tales of middle-class America that used to tug on our heartstrings so.


Ashworth sticks to the same formula that his fans have come to know and love, but this time around the merry-go-round there’s something distinct missing. This likely revolves around the fact that the overall aesthetics of the music seem stuck in a twilight zone of lo-fi bedroom indie and polished studio production. While the title of his previous project alone makes it clear that Ashworth has never been for the glitz and glam of modern production, the cheesy synths and tinny percussion that he’s historically used to his benefit have an incongruous sheen to them here that contributes to a sort of auditory uncanny valley. There’s none of the faded, washed out elements that constructed the sympathetic and endearing aural landscape of a sad, middle-aged man sighing heavily into his beard as he plucks hopefully at a plastic keyboard.


If you’ve heard any of Ashworth’s artistic output, you’ve heard the songs here. “Trisha Please Come Home” has a melancholy synth coupled with a simplistic, pre-programmed keypad backbone. “Pamela” has an arpeggiated synth that repeats infinitely while a 50s dancehall drum beat is rendered through synthetic means. “My Love for You is Like a Puppy Underfoot” features the female vocals audiences will have heard employed on previous CFTPA albums, with a horrendous title to boot. Surprise, surprise. Even when Ashworth steps out of his comfort zone on songs with comparatively sparse arrangements, such as “Christmas in Dearborn”, he botches the operation by challenging himself to sing instead of relegating himself to the gruffly tender mumble we’ve become accustomed to. Not everything is a total loss; when Ashworth isn’t afraid to pick up the pace from his usual lo-fi funeral dirge memorable results ensue, and “Might of the Moose” and album highlight “Summon Satan” are no exception.


In addition, “The Only Other Girl from Back Home” utilizes the tactic of re-envisioning traditional folk melodies (previously employed by Ashworth on CFTPA’s VS. CHILDREN), contributing to an instant atmosphere of charm. Lyrically, Ashworth is just as milquetoast as ever, and the audience’s preference for his homespun tales of slackerdom and inconsequential daily tasks will remain largely subjective. However, Ashworth adds two songs directly referencing the supernatural and the occult (“Pamela”, “Summon Satan”), so perhaps the hikkokomori characters he’s crafted over the years have taken a dark turn in his mind.


Wrapped up with two entirely forgettable songs that overstay their welcome by at least three minutes (“Nephew in the Wild”, “Kitty Winn”), the listener is left with a sour taste in their mouth. When Ashworth is at his best, he captures alienation and the stoic sadness of mediocre existence to a sublime degree. When he’s at his worst, as he is on NEPHEW IN THE WILD, he bores to tears.

Verdict: Do Not Recommend

Crossfader is the brainchild of Thomas Seraydarian, and he acts as Editor-in-Chief.

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