It's a fact, The Books albums are indigestible but they age pretty well. Acclimation is necessary and finally you are not expected everything. After five silent years, they are back with "The Way Out".
But it's not about going out of an impasse, because, it's kinda the same as they are following their way, digging deeper in their own dead end. Nick Zammuto sings in fact better on this album, assuming more space on a few songs.
And this part of "This Way Out" is the reason why I keep insisting even on the tracks where he is not singing and replaced by a plethora of various samples of enunciating voices, which are, as exhausting as they could be pleasant, depending on your mood and your degree of saturation.
First stop for track n°5, "Beautiful People", with some of their usual beautiful conceptual & cryptic lyrics : "And we genuflect before pure abstraction / 1.05946…, twelfth root of two, amen. / to begin again…". Nothing groundbreaking but as under the auspices of Laurie Anderson as ever and the last part of the song is just delicious.
Next stop at station n°7 and highlight of this album, its "Smells like Content", its "Classy Penguin", but this time, totally centered around Zammuto's vocal performance, more introvert, more emotional, more subtle and sensitive than never, and the main reason to discover this album.
Third island (n°11) on "We bought the flood", which is the typical The Books song but just quieter than usual and more self reflective and melancholic, "And all of this will disappear as quickly as it came / The fire and the rain oxidize and rearrange / Focus on the pain, / Focus on the way to get out."It's not a song you will directly notice, but it's oblivious that its value will grow with time because of the depth and despair included with a subtlety which will need months to be assimilated.
My exit will be the sensitive "Free Translator" (n°13), unusually tender, softly poetic, and bucolic.
2010 is a grand cru for The Books.