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Arriving four years after his solo debut Overgrown Path, Chris Cohen's sophomore outing, As If Apart, is another impressive album of easygoing yet tightly wound psych pop gems. Cohen's calm, warm vocals deliver thoughtful lyrics describing memories, feelings, seasons, and scenes. They're colorful and descriptive, yet abstract and questioning. Musically, his songs feature gently swirling guitars and keyboards, and they alternate between slow, dreamy numbers and faster, jauntier ones. Cohen makes complex arrangements sound easy, displaying a stunning degree of attention to detail. The album's title track manages to be speedy and hammering yet still mellow and relaxed. It's one of the album's two songs co-written by Zach Phillips of Blanche Blanche Blanche, and it recalls that criminally under-recognized band's Zappa-inspired lunacy and twisted wordplay, with lines like "One half is not enough/To have is not enough." Elsewhere, the shimmering waltz of "Needle and Thread" and the gloomy "Sun Has Gone Away" both bring to mind the haunted melancholy of Broadcast. "In a Fable" is more upbeat, with a hint of Motown embedded into its casual soft rock groove. "The Lender" has a more uptight rhythm, but the guitars surrounding it are loose and a bit jangly, and the keyboards smooth things out. The album ends with the chiming Byrds-y guitars of "Yesterdays on My Mind," easily one of the album's catchiest tunes. As If Apart maintains a laid-back, weekend-afternoon feel, but it never seems too lazy, as Cohen is clearly adept at crafting pleasant yet sophisticated songs.
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