WATERS is the new project from recently dismantled Port O’Brien’s frontman Van Pierszalowski. While demanding all capital letters seems a little ridiculous, the fruits of the effort are, fortunately, well worth the extra time with the <shift> key. Out in the Light effectively packs a punch and spotlights previously unseen dimensions of Pierszalowski’s talents: more confident vocals, deeper lyrics, and a fresh, new sound that leaves you thinking that maybe Port O’Brien’s breakup wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
Opener “For the One”‘s grungy guitar and catchy chorus instantly distance WATERS from Port O’Brien: Gone is the hesitancy, and gone is the charm of the mellow, lo-fi pop. Declaring with a new vocal certainty, “I’ve seen too much, and I’m not waiting for the one to find me,” Pierszalowski is clearly taking charge. The trend of strong, melodic songs runs throughout with anthemic tunes “Out in the Light” and “Take Me Out to the Coast”, both championing the opportunities that life’s hardships end up creating. WATERS also masterfully creates slower songs that showcase Pierszalowski’s paper-thin, yet resilient, vocals. Notably in this category is second track “O Holy Break of Day”, whose toned-down, bluesy guitar allows the emotion of Pierszalowski’s voice to shine through as he muses, “Never having imagined I could have been a free man this soon,” perhaps reflecting on the break with his old band.
Out in the Light, for its definite strengths, also offers its fair share of follies — namely “Back to You”‘s overproduction. On the whole, though, it is a strong debut. It’s a dynamic performance, experimenting and excelling both at upbeat, fuzzy power-pop and at heartfelt, powerful ruminations on life and regret. As he repeats, “forever, forever, forever” on stunning closer “Mickey Mantle”, one can’t help but think that Pierszalowski has found his groove and could, feasibly, do this forever.
Essential Tracks: “Mickey Mantle”, “Out in the Light”, and “O Holy Break of Day”