Restorations - Restorations (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Restorations (2024)


One of the bands I absolutely spent a big part of the last decade adoring -- and even before that -- has always been Restorations. They were quite the fad at this here 'ole 'Org for some time, especially as they were a big part of that burgeoning Philly scene in the 2010s and henceforth. Algernon Cadwallader's Joe Reinhart (later of Hop Along) worked on their early stuff as well, so you know they would be worth their weight in gold. And as the years rolled by, call them 'dad rock' or whatever, they always lived up to the building. True Americana rock 'n roll, with nostalgic cuts and a post-rock hue that fans of The Gaslight Anthem, Lucero and such would take to. Well, with their fifth LP -- aptly titled Restorations (which cements their first self-titled as LP1) -- finally released, it's safe to say Restorations haven't lost their magic.

Now, let me preface this by saying, LP2 is a juggernaut. A titan of a record few bands could ever live up to. I admired the rest, but that album has such a special place in my heart: a cure for depression and a reminder that getting old and haggard isn't necessarily a bad thing. The fourth full-length, oddly titled LP5000 though was less angsty and felt like a sonic shift -- nothing too far gone but a simple reminder that bands do evolve and ache for something new. This album feels like the best middle ground someone could ask for who is familiar with their archive.

Off the cuff, the band's strength is on display with "Field Recordings" -- a shoegaze, post-rock gem that nods to songs like "Nonbeliever" -- quiet when need be, but melodic chaos as it swells. This gives way for songs like "Cured" -- dynamic shoutalongs and that effervescent, smokey bar energy that is, for want of a better word, vintage Restorations. I have always enjoyed that songs like these are rough, not too anthem-y, and just catchy enough in their call-and-response nature. Of course, I think their shorter, punchier tracks are straight-up jams, too. Not everything needs to be loud, explosive bangers, right?

Case in point, "Film Maudit" which has that artsy indie-rock feel, without sacrificing the dynamism of the clashing guitars. At this point, the band is on song -- Jon Loudon's vocals are restrained enough, yell-y enough, and perfectly accentuated by the instruments. All tapered to keep the fizz of old, but with a newer sheen and pop. As for the lyrics, Loudon and Co. continue to pierce that veneer of mid-life crises and grey hair, painting emotional pictures of things like the cost of living and how hard life has gotten for everyone post-pandemic.

I confess, "The Cost" is one of their most remarkably-written jams. At this point, I'm not gushing. Sure, there are gorgeous soundscapes but a few tracks do lose some momentum along the way. But all in all, Restorations (working with Retro City Studios, Spring Garden Studios, The Greenhouse and Mission Control Mastering) are every bit as good as when they polished their tunes back home at Miner Street Recordings. The music is still lush, nuanced and hopefully optimistic. Even the nihilistic parts that hint there is no light at the end of the tunnel but that we still have to do our best to enjoy the harsh rigours of life in this reality resonate with a meaning and sentiment. Something me in my '20s wouldn't grasp, versus me in my late '30s here. 

It's best summed up by their closer, and boy, do Restorations know how to do a curtain-call. "Charm" is awash with organs, an ethereal hum and Loudon crooning to beg us all to beware of the cold, cruel world. But to still live for the fires we meet along the way, even if we have to start them ourselves. Feels familiar. Frank Turner, Chuck Ragan, Brian Fallon, Maura Weaver, Waxahatchee, et al have constantly reminded us of this. And, oh yeah, so too have Restorations. And through this self-titled, it's apparent. Some things (even when a band alters its lineup or tweaks its musical artistry and approach) never change.