Chris Cohen’s Beach Boys by way of Talk Talk pop explorations most closely resemble the music of Cohen’s friend, contemporary, and bandmate Cass McCombs. Over dim psychedelic classic rock, smooth swagger, and jazzy instrumentation, Cohen’s Overgrown Path croons with a subtle darkness, its seemingly carefree melodies venturing towards sadness and disillusionment. Heavy keys, syncopated rhythms, crawling bass lines, and pastoral folk-soul melodies move in and out of darkness, like walking midnight’s empty city streets, some lit bright and some completely bleak. These songs dance around themselves, swaying with confidence, before getting lost in a grey area between jaunty and confused.
“Monad”, for example, varies from Grizzly Bear chamber-pop, to classic rock/pop, before studying the crisp instrumentation’s messy potential. All over, Overgrown Path’s happy sounds bubble to the surface of subtle gloom. Even when Cohen reaches what seems to be an ecstatic revelation, as on “Don’t Look Today”, it’s a conflict of interest. “There’s nothing there below you,” Cohen reveals, as if happy in his transparency of character; it’s better to reach a bad conclusion than to feel confused.
Overgrown Path‘s centerpiece, “Roller Coaster Rider”, sums these conflicted feelings up best. Cohen captures emotional irresponsibility and chaos through a sugarcoated theme park metaphor, noting beauty and elegance where others might only see disarray. In his catchiest display, Cohen’s honey-coo idolizes insanity: “So you board the roller coaster/ to leave them all behind./ And you’re riding right on the track/ you go all around, but then you come back./You go upward, then you go down/ you go upward, then you go down.”
Overgrown Path does all of these things, but it belays that with a cool, relaxed faÃ§ade. Just know there’s an undeniable darkness on the edge of Cohen’s town.
Essential Tracks: “Monad”, “Roller Coaster Rider”, “Don’t Look Today”