When Kurt Vile sang “Walkin’ in a pretty daze”, little did he know he’d just perfectly described the feeling of listening to Boy Scouts’ third full-length, ‘Free Company.’ Taylor Vick’s (Boy Scouts) illusory soundscapes bathe the listener in a near-permanent splendour. Album-wise its closest sibling is Sun June’s nigh-on perfect ‘Years’, in that both records never feel the need to embellish or increase the volume. ‘Free Company’ is a model of restraint. There are brusque moments – the wiry riff on ‘Expiration Date’, the hefty guitar chug on ‘You Were Once’ – but as a whole ‘Free Company’ stretches its arms out and enfolds you in a maternal, life-giving embrace.
The Oakland-based musician’s strolling folk-rock is an essential part of this aesthetic as is her frankly hypnotic vocal. It’s expansive, room-filling and reminiscent of Lucy Dacus, not perhaps in sound but more in the sheer humanity that emanates from it. You’ll forever be fawning over the soaring melodies on standout, ‘All Right’.
Conversely the lyrical content is gloomy and occasionally dejected. Written following a break-up, Vick describes ‘Free Content’ as a classic “heartbreak album”. As well as the aftermath, it ponders the relationship’s disintegration, the looks cast at a soon-to-be ex, questioning the thoughts running through their brain, that total immersion where you question every part of yourself – ‘Is this a result of my imperfections?’ ‘Am I the reason for this?’ ‘Could I do more to stop this?’ That journey from the ecstasy of a love in bloom to the wretchedness of finding yourself alone. “Back to being a stranger / inside my dampened town / and all this time it was never ours” perfectly surmising this feeling of identity crisis that often follows a break-up.
The admission of “yeah we eventually reached impound” on ‘Throw Away Love’ is the album’s most devastating line. That lyrical deftness paired with Vick’s aptitude for shimmering, utopian soundscapes, clear proof we’re in the presence of an emerging artist at the top of their game. There’s a lot more where this came from. Quote me on it.