El Radio is a very quiet record. Indeed, so quiet you will have to be patient and give the music a chance over a number of listens.
Chris Garneau - El Radio
Now, this might be labelled as an extremely pretentious release, but I can’t help but like it. Split into four sections of three songs each, (each triptych mirroring the seasons) and very much a solo release, El Radio relies a great deal on string arrangements and piano (Dirty Night Clowns has a particularly perky sound that is entirely due to the asperity of the string accompaniment, though mentioning model planes and cup cakes isn’t good…)
There’s a lot of piano-based reflection on here, and the pace is effectively set by the marvellous opening track The Leaving Song (a grower if ever there was one) and the great (if uber-quiet Hands on the Radio. Some nice pop songs can be found too, No More Pirates is a lovely low key track with a big heart, and the follower Fireflies is a wee bit “Sound of Music”, but gets away with it courtesy of a brilliantly sharp arrangement.
The LP picks up considerably I the last half, kicking off with the great, maudlin Hometown Girls. Maybe you just get used to the weird quiet show-tune vibe... Over and Over reinforces the melancholy by way of a loop and a sample or two. And Things She Said is some track, a slightly creepy lullaby that has a very spooky psychic after-burn.
El Radio is a very quiet record. Indeed, so quiet you will have to be patient and give the music a chance over a number of listens. It’s also very reflective and often a bit gauche; but great listening or a still winter’s afternoon.
Words: Richard Foster