(2019) Heartbreak City

Apex Manor

... read moreIt doesn't take long for Ross Flournoy to make clear that his second album as Apex Manor will be a whole lot different than his previous work. The first track on 2019's Heartbreak City, "Asked & Answered," opens with a sustained howl of feedback as the tune charges out of the gate like early...

45′:57″ 11 Songs

1
Asked & Answered
Apex Manor
4:08
2
Where My Mind Goes
Apex Manor
3:42
3
The Long Goodbye
Apex Manor
4:00
4
Diamond In The Dark
Apex Manor
4:21
5
Actual Size
Apex Manor
5:19
6
Heartbreak City
Apex Manor
3:37
7
Sara Now
Apex Manor
5:19
8
Nervous Wreck
Apex Manor
4:01
9
Vcr
Apex Manor
4:01
10
Morning Light
Apex Manor
3:54
11
Sanctuary
Apex Manor
3:35
Released 31 May 2019, 2019 Merge Records

Review

It doesn't take long for Ross Flournoy to make clear that his second album as Apex Manor will be a whole lot different than his previous work. The first track on 2019's Heartbreak City, "Asked & Answered," opens with a sustained howl of feedback as the tune charges out of the gate like early Dinosaur Jr., a far cry from the rumpled but sunny indie pop of 2011's The Year of Magical Drinking and his earlier music with the Broken West. Flournoy went through some heavy personal changes in the wake of The Year of Magical Drinking, including a stint in rehab to deal with a serious alcohol problem, and the rough-hewn, chaotic textures of these songs and the angsty tone of the lyrics speak of a man who has been dealing with some demons since he last checked in. Not everything on Heartbreak City hits with the impact of tunes like "Where My Mind Goes," "Nervous Wreck," or the title song, but the quieter and more atmospheric pieces like "Morning Light" and "Sara Now" still lurk in the shadows and reflect an unsatisfied mind as he looks inside himself. Flournoy isn't a barrel of laughs on Heartbreak City, but taking a hard look at his life choices and his relationships with others has done his art some genuine good. His rock moves are convincing and satisfying, and his rough-and-ready guitar work uses its jagged edges to give the music weight and texture. Bassist Rob Barbato (who also produced the album) and drummer Dan Allaire give Flournoy unobtrusive but effective support, and the audio is just clean enough to favor the music and just noisy enough to suit the navel-gazing mood of this music. Not everyone who enjoyed Apex Manor or the Broken West in the past will go for the darker and more abrasive approach of Heartbreak City, but viewed on its own merits, this album ranks with his best music to date, eloquent and uncompromising. ~ Mark Deming