Restorations - LP3 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


LP3 (2014)

Side One Dummy

Restorations pretty much established themselves with LP2 in a bigger and more expansive way. This was the album that announced them in the way most bands want to be viewed or defined. As someone who took a while to get into them, I boast this about that record because it was the one that really won me over. In spades. Few bands can pull off such an assured sound, and they did. Their music dips in and out, varying from conventional to intricate to wandering to intense. A deep range, indeed. But what makes Restorations click is that when they traverse these forks in the road, they do so with an extra edge and a bit more conviction. Topping LP2 was always gonna be a tall order. Make no mistake. It's a record that's hard to conquer and while LP3 does give it a bit of run for its money, it can't match the power that April 2013 crafted. But that being said, this time around, Restoration's nine tracks continue to offer an open and honest Jon Loudon bellowing over one of the most musically sound and strikingly intelligent skeletons around today, which ensures that LP3 ends on a more than a satisfactory conclusion.

It took me a while to categorize their sound but what LP2 did was get me to really ingest and assess the 'older and wiser' stories they churned out. They're a band that's based on lessons learned from experiences felt. What impressed me most was the degree of inventiveness they coursed in what I can only describe as a pure rock 'n' roll aesthetic. LP3 builds on this some more, but in a quieter, subtle way. It feels like an extension of its predecessor but without rehashing a lot. Not only is it calmer and less heavy but this album feels like it's geared for Loudon to story-tell more, lyrics-wise. The distorted opener "Wales" is a screamer of an opener which sets the low-tempo pace that most of the album thrives in. It also begins another drastic guitar-centric ride which no doubt will recollect the intrigue of all their past records and their considerable success. Instrument-wise, they're on par as expected. If you've never heard them before and are thirsty for deep-breath solos and stunning riffs, this is made for you. The post-rock ambiance and steady sense of emotion simmer so well and again, the familiarity creeps in for fans of all their older material. Yet it's nothing too stale.

"Misprint" compounds how soothing and relaxing the opening third is as they rely more on melodic rhythms with little loud spikes here and there. You expect more of these moments to unravel later on but they never do. Risky but smart. Restorations allow you to fill in the blanks as they let loose some of their most laid-back tunes to date. Given how hectic the ride's been and how meteoric these Philly dudes have risen, it seems that this is a breather of an album. It does come off a tad disengaging at times because if you're a big fan like me, you want them to go louder and heavier. "D" was what I wanted more of here. However, their music is fashioned more content on this go and I can appreciate that. It's a natural cycle for any band to step back and just dial it down a bit and conserve some energy.

Organs fill the atmosphere on a lot of tracks and Restorations' credibility will only go up from here because they take the best parts of what their sound is and refine it with such sweet harmony. "No Castle" though acts as a shake-up as one of the quicker and more dynamic tracks which arguably could have populated the record more. But all in all, they'll continue to grab headlines because you trust in them. This style and particular brand is worth it and while Restorations lingered more in the low-to-mid temp regions, you still don't find yourself lost on too much. The final third doesn't emerge as strong but as "It's Not" closes out the record, with a lengthier dose of Springsteen-meets-Gaslight Anthem rock n' roll, you're happy to see that such a sound is alive and kicking. And more so, a sound that hasn't or won't die of its own accord. Even in interviews, these dudes can't convey or label their sound -- and that's the sort of abstract jig that makes their tunes more worthwhile. They're valid in their lyrics, legit in their jams and there's an increasing feel they're going to be putting themselves on the map in bigger ways very soon. As anxious and unnerving as they get at times, you're strapped in and soaking it all up.

Ultimately, LP3 doesn't unfold as adventurously as I anticipated. However, in the not-too-distant future, I can see even more folks bearing with their stories. Because this is the kind of calm that lures you in. Adding this to their catalog helps to build a serialization of Philly indie/DIY love stories that I think most people would love to latch onto. Why? Well, because for some odd reason, Loudon and company make you feel like you're part of their city and a part of their stories. A few years ago, all the coverage of Restorations was met by me with a lukewarm response, and to this day, if someone asks me where to get into them, yeah, my love-affair with the album before will point them in that direction. But I'm happy to note that minor flaws aside, this new chapter appeases the demand for more epic tunes from a band that has so much to offer. I wanted them to bring the chaos and shake the order up more but still, the slower setting here manages to work me over. Let's see where they go from here.