Reviewed by: Lara Supan
Liberation! is best experienced with the liner notes read in tandem with listening to the songs, because this is an album that screams for an explanation.
In quite an intriguing way, the disjunct styles and complex titles to each of these tracks will make any listener curious to find out the stories behind each piece. Luckily, Peter Matthew Bauer is one step ahead of you, and the explanations can be found here in this article by Sean Adams. Reading them can be quite enlightening and make the songs that much more impressive! Bauer uses every part of this world as music, from the sound of a truck backing up in “Shaved Heads & Pony Tails” to a soccer stadium full of fans with vuvezelas in “Instanbul Field Recordings.” If Liberation! had to be compared to similar artists, it’s closest to a combination of psychedelic pop Beatles and Bruce Springsteen with a world music twist. Sounds like a lovely musical cocktail!
The only shortcoming of this album is the reverb and distortion added to the vocals. With such amazing titles (“Irish Wake in Varanasi”, “Scientology Airplane Conversations”, “Shiva the Destroyer” to name a few) it is frustrating to have the lyrics so garbled that they are unintelligible. The overwhelming majority of these songs sound like Bauer recorded his vocals in an aluminum bathtub on acid. Besides that, this album is one to be studied, enjoyed and appreciated. Bauer has taken a great first crack at a solo career after The Walkmen left him without a band to play with.
Liberation! covers an amazing amount of ground in a short amount of time. Take the time to sit, listen, and absorb the creativity and attention to detail that went into this very personal, very vulnerable look at Peter Matthew Bauer’s life experiences up to the present day. And please read the liner notes, it’s totally worth it.