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Myself in the Way by Turnover Review
With its patchwork of lethargic guitar riffs, dying-bulb synth glow, and generic disco beats, the Virginia band’s latest album is strangely emotionally detached.
Turnover’s sound has evolved with each new album, shifting in an effort to become more present. Having ironed gravelly guitars into silky melodies, they have supplanted pop-punk with their own softer style, infused with saxophone flourishes and rivers of synthesizers. In contrast to 2015’s moody escapism, 2017’s Good Nature exhibits a more optimistic attitude, excising self-isolation and bad vibes by embracing psych-rock and easygoing grooves. According to Turnover’s definition, maturity involves aspiring toward a level-headed attitude. But they might have saged the studio too hard while making Myself in the Way, a patchwork of lethargic guitar riffs, dying-bulb synth glow, and generic disco beats.
“Can’t put myself in the way of love again,” Austin Getz proclaims in the album’s title track. Does self-sabotage or a fear of commitment stand between him and the deepening relationship he describes as a “puzzle of dreams”? The earnest line of questioning is unfortunately watered down by the Tame Impala-lite instrumentation and Getz’s inability to portray his narrator as either determined or even willing to cross emotional hurdles. As he sings awkwardly in auto-tune, he declares, “I think I can do this forever, if you will.” Brendan Yates, a performer who can deliver corpse-reviving vocals from mid-air, appears almost as an afterthought in the outro.
Guest vocalists, particularly Temple of Angels’ Bre Morell’s soulful performance on “Ain’t Love Heavy,” underscore the album’s strange sense of emotional detachment. “When you’re wrapped around me in your warm embrace/How can I control myself?” Getz chirps on “Pleasures Galore”, his voice once again obscured by Auto-Tune. The sound of his voice is eerily controlled, as if a robot were processing romantic pastiche. The lifeless attempt at Nile Rodgers-style guitar and the Muppet-like synthesizers do not contribute to his conviction. There is no doubt that Love’s rapture is evident on the lyrics sheet, but throughout Myself in the Way, the chemistry feels laboratory-sterilized. Getz’s delivery is dull and stale regardless of whether he is discussing a partner’s facial expression following a quarrel or the way the floorboards shake during sex.
In addition to being the album’s most striking moment, it is also its most bizarre. In “Mountains Made of Clouds” Gerz pays homage to his former home of five years, Sebastopol, California, from which he recently moved away. There are some lyrics that are wistful nods to the region’s natural beauty, while others outline a loose narrative: “Moving as fast as I was/Spending my time running/From the lawman,” Getz sings. With wavy synths and a viscous electric guitar, the music feels weightless, and by the song’s end, the Pink Floyd melancholy has been replaced by birdsong. The sound of Getz’s voice echoes intimately as he sings over raw acoustic strums: “Now my weary eyes/Won’t stop looking at the door/I can hear the sirens outside.” The closest Turnover get to making us feel those same emotions is stripping the song naked, if only for a few seconds.