Written by Maria Arroyo
New solo artist Andrew Thurlow Wood a.k.a. Thurlowood’s new debut album, Discontinue Normal Program, is out today! Thurlowood started off as the vocalist and pianist with the band, Bridges + Powerlines, which surfaced in 2006. In 2016, they released their last album, National Fantasy, then they went on a hiatus, which was the beginning of his exploration as a solo artist.
Discontinue Normal Program takes influences from ANOHNI, Radiohead, Mitsli, and many more to bring his story to life. He describes his first solo release as a “pre-apocalyptic electro-indie rock… moody with moments of uplift.” Thulorwood became inspired by the book Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan To Save Itself by Garrett M. Graff.
The album touches on a lot of historic events while making us aware of the danger of leaving these threats unnoticed for our children to have to fix. “From the US’s secret plans for continuity of government to the president as a “madman,” from bunker survivalists to Hiroshima survivors, from the false 1983 missile alert that nearly led to annihilation but for a Russian savior to a more recent alarm in Hawaii—each is explored across the album’s ten songs.”
“It feels strange, like a strange time to release it,” Thurlowood says. “I couldn’t have imagined even a few weeks ago that these new songs would be coming out in the midst of the current crisis.” He also mentions that he hopes that these stories will convey a story of hope in considering the everyday decisions and actions that we take.
“Survivalist” opens the album and is pretty representative of the album’s sound as a whole. While the vocals are interestingly different, the song structure is very well done. There are moments of explosively high energy, and then those softer moments to contrast it.
“Reverie” introduced an incredibly rhythmic percussion section that really keeps the energy from fading. He also showcases more synth instrumentation that is also pretty prevalent throughout. This song also brings notice to his attention to details and dynamics. There’s another song “Madman” that also stands strong in his futuristic influences, but with a rock side to it. The sound was a lot greater than I anticipated, but the shimmer of rock influences is a great touch.
His next song “Specter” introduces fun and playful piano intro, which is a nice turnaround from the beginning of the album. I love that he still shows off his piano skills from his place in Bridges + Powerlines. It really made for an easy-going listen.
The most layered piece of the album is “C.O.G”; but sometimes, it felt a little cluttered. Sometimes the instrumentation was not the clearest, so things got a little muffled. With that being said, he introduced a lot of interesting intentional breaks in the song that were executed very well. The lyrics in this song were also a lot clearer in terms of the overall theme, and I could start connecting better to the album as a whole.
These next songs “Hibakusha” and “Hawaiian Sunshine” have a lot of intense tension surrounding their sound. It really helped set his theme into place. Not only was there a very purposeful creation of suspension in the instrumentation, the vocals did as well. The emotion in the latter really became a pinnacle point for the album. As we got closer to the end of the album, I could start to see his theme blossoming a little more than before.
Closing out the album is the track, “Elegy/Unless.” The intro is just as intense as the previous songs, but exactly what I was looking for. The choice to end with a longer and more emotional song is probably the smartest decision that he could have made. It really tired all of these different ideas and collection of stories into one cohesive sendoff
Sometimes, it was hard to associate the inspiration of the album to the lyrics because they weren’t so clear at times, but as the album continued, it started to clear up. The different influences that he weaved into his album shine through, while still showing his own creativity in the process. Keep an eye out for more to come from this new solo-bound artist!
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