Launched in late 2000, Chris Anderson is the brainchild behind Crayola Lectern. What he wanted to was create this extension of his personality instead of artistic compositions. It involved the procurement of a piano. He released his debut album in 2013 on the Bleeding Hearts Recordings label entitled, The Fall and Rise of… with critical acclaim. Among the supporters that included Robert Wyatt and Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle, The music itself had this new sound that is rich and wonder.
The first album dealt with the subject issue on the loss of a loved one, but the subject is filled with humor, irreverence, or a paradox. This year, he released a follow up, this time on a new label with Onomatopoeia Records entitled, Happy Endings. The textures on the new release, details an optimistic look on the issue of death. While we feel that it is approaching, it takes on a whole new role on our lives and what will happen to us when we go into the afterlife.
When I was listening to Happy Endings, I wasn’t thinking of the terms Alternative and Psychedelic Rock, I was thinking to myself “Where is this coming from? This is something special that Anderson himself has brought to the table.” For me, it felt the same way when I was introduced into the world of William D. Drake’s The Rising of the Lights back seven years ago.
Happy Endings is filled with joy, sadness, strong structures, and saying goodbye to the people that you knew and cared about. Opener, Rescue Mission begins with a pounding piano and horn section that opens the door with a swirling farfisa organ that is climbing through the melodic horns to follow suit. The lyrics deal about a superhero who felt that while he’s given up everything, he has one last chance to go out in a blaze of glory.
I can imagine Chris wrote this song for Michael Keaton’s character for the 2014 Black Comedy-Drama classic, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). It’s a great way to start the album off as Anderson takes you through the mind of the hero’s struggle to not let go of everything he’s done to make the city safe. While there’s not going to be another mission for him, the people in the city only care about themselves.
Linger On is this cross between The Beatles White Album and Brian Wilson’s lyrical arrangements. It has these catchy dreamy lullaby lyrics with some eerie chipmunk-sque vocal arrangements followed by not just a joyful rhythm section, but some surreal compositions. Barbara’s Persecution Complex has a vaudeville/ragtime intro as the coin goes into the nickelodeon.
It is a surreal madness on the keyboards of being inside the mental institution with some rising chords, fuzz-tone guitars and horn sections. I can see William D. Drake conducting one of Chris’ pieces and giving the band members some ideas on where he wants them to go into. (Don’t) Let Go is a cross between the haunting/mournful piano chords resembling Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Robert Wyatt’s Rock Bottom-era.
The loss of Victoria shows how much that either she was struggling through her mental state/depression as she was dying on the inside or it was all just a dream. On Secrets Lectern’s vocals and the usages of the horn and church organ delve into a melodic fanfare arrangement as it sets sail to unknown worlds. There’s a bit of Gruff Rhys in Chris’ vocals and a tipping of the hat towards Super Furry Animals’ Rings Around the World-era.
As I’ve mentioned earlier in my review, Happy Endings is an emotional yet staggering release. Now, this is my 11th time listening to Crayola Lectern’s new album. And while I’m new to his music, there’s going to be some major competition on who is going to be 2018’s album of the year so far. If you love the essence between early Pink Floyd, Super Furry Animals, and Robert Wyatt with a twist of Sunshine/Baroque Pop, Happy Endings is the album you need to check out.