Review The Modern World

Tim Cohen

... read moreTim Cohen's fifth solo album, 2018's The Modern World, arrives just a year after both a sixth LP from his band the Fresh & Onlys and his previous solo album, Luck Man. While Luck Man often reflected on the past, The Modern World, as the title suggests, is immersed in the present. The period in...

Tim Cohen's fifth solo album, 2018's The Modern World, arrives just a year after both a sixth LP from his band the Fresh & Onlys and his previous solo album, Luck Man. While Luck Man often reflected on the past, The Modern World, as the title suggests, is immersed in the present. The period in between albums saw the birth of Cohen's second child as well as relentless sociopolitical unrest, and those emotional extremes are reflected in the album's lyrics. Largely self-recorded in the attic of his San Francisco home with guests contributing drums, horns, or backing vocals to some of the tracks, it's a mostly solitary effort and feels like his most straightforward to date. Having said that, there are still cryptic, psychedelic moments, such as the meandering "Sleeping in the Bathroom." Alongside lyrics like "Hiding in the floorboards, that's the life for me," it constructs a hazy atmosphere with synths and fuzz over urgent drums and xylophone. He opts for a full-band sound most of the time here, as on the jaunty "Goodness," with its organ and rhythm section, and in the bouncy retro-rock of "I'm a Girl," though intimacy prevails. Throughout, expressions of affection and anxiety often appear in the same song, including on the western-styled "Go Seagull," which describes hearing a lover's breath and heartbeat at night, then notes "There are fingerprints on the window in the shape of a stranger's guise/And he will see you before you do." While The Modern World may serve to reflect Cohen's own state of mind at a distinct time, his understated songs end up capturing the Zeitgeist. ~ Marcy Donelson