The Decemberists' John Moen releases LP under moniker Perhapst
John Moen - drummer and harmony right-hand for the Decemberists, Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Elliott Smith, and Robert Pollard's Boston Spaceships, as well as the former front man of Portland’s legendary Maroons - has released his second album of gorgeously crafted pop-rock tunes, Revise Your Maps, under the name Perhapst on Jealous Butcher Records.
Recorded and produced by Jonathan Drews (Sunset Valley) at Jonathan’s Last of the Explorers studio, Revise Your Maps' twelve songs are imbued with sweetness, sass, and melancholy. The record kicks off with "Birds off a Wire," the perfect introduction to Moen’s impossibly keen melodic sense. A peerless falsetto coaxes through the verses while the choruses dissolve into saturated guitars. It’s pop music with satisfying, jangly corners, and this theme carries through Revise Your Maps. With "Birds off a Wire" one is reminded of The Notorious Byrd Brothers and then two songs later on "Ramble Scramble," you’re tapping along with a shuffling boogie that’s all Squeeze. The title song - perhaps the most wistful of the lot - tugs on the heart with a refrain that’s equal parts teary and hopeful. "Sorrow & Shame’s" chorus may take you self-deprecatingly to despair, but it somehow stomps and struts like Freddie Mercury all the while. Songs call out to a bonnie-haired beloved, broadcast from a moored ship that used to go places, stay up late to bemoan an old sadness.
Moen shot the cover photo the record, and while Jonathan Drews manned the mixing board, Moen composed a drawing for each of the songs. These appear on the back sleeve and are a totally charming sort of inkblot test of each of the tunes.
Revise Your Maps is a grown-up record full of all the love, want, and peacemaking that come to a husband, dad, and musician who’s been playing on stages since he was a teenager. It’s as though while drumming and recording with other artists over the years, Moen was collecting as well, burnishing these gems. It’s such a fully-realized collection of songs, an album who’s themes seamlessly weave a sum even greater than the individual parts. Revise Your Maps will settle in that exulted, select stack closest your turntable.