Idle Ray’s self-titled debut LP is an instant hit of curious, succinct, insanely catchy songs. All the sounds are familiar, welcome like the nonchalant careening of “I Will Dare,” Bob Pollard’s textured yearning, and the astonishing clarity/easy force of a Justine Frischmann or Julian Casablancas vocal. This all feels very intentional! Fred Thomas is such a thoughtful, capable songwriter, with a history that includes collaborative punk (Lovesick), improvisation (Flashpapr), masterminding (Saturday Looks Good to Me) and vulnerability (Fred Thomas). I think these are the songs he wants to make right now, songs that, yes, could’ve been written in 1977, or 1985, or 1993. That connect to histories of indie rock and power pop. But I also think he’s relying on my/your/our immediate connection to these sounds so that he can get close, and in this closeness talk honestly about really stressful topics. Losing touch, remembering things you didn’t want to, imagining how much better the world would be if every one of us were just 5% nicer to each other. You might have a friend you can talk about stuff like that with, but in general those conversations put everyone in a worse mood. Even if they’re necessary. Idle Ray is a way to have them, even to have them feel welcome.
Second pressing on purple vinyl, released by Life Like records in an edition of 200 copies. With lyric insert.