Review Summary: Life in a perpetual trance.
Much of the appeal of Rebound
lies in the fact that every song exists as its own little world. The majority of the tracks in this collection immerse the listener in a hypnotic drone, relying on the magic of sustained synths, subtle guitar snippets, and lavish production values; rarely had an album sported such inviting locales in 2018. “My Jesus Phase” immediately sets the tone, introducing a strange synthesis of floating keyboards and staccato drum beats before it gradually transforms into a slow-burning ballad rife with brooding instrumentation and intricate songwriting ornaments. But what Eleanor Friedberger pulled off on this album is incredibly effective, because it plays around with the minimalism and immersion these songs exude. When you have tracks that rely on such simple, atmospheric approaches, it’s tempting to throw some oddball decisions into the mix and see if they stick. For instance, the random bursts of guitar distortion that appear in the middle of “The Letter” contrast very nicely with the dreamlike nature of the song itself. Likewise, the unusually upbeat music of the horn-driven banger “Everything” comes at a great time to change the album’s pace a bit. Then there’s “Nice to be Nowhere,” which brings periodic bouts of mesmerizing clean-channel guitar work to glaze over the slow tread of the synthesizers.
As far as Friedberger herself fares, her vocals fit very well with the music. She’s just charismatic enough to carry the tracks while knowing when to let the music speak for itself. She’s not some eccentric force of personality, but that’s not what the music calls for anyway; more often than not, she adopts the typical dream pop approach of layering her dreamlike vocals over the music like another instrument rather than towering over the production. This works wonders during the album’s slower moments, as she adds yet another layer of atmosphere to music that’s already dripping with it; “Nice to be Nowhere,” “My Jesus Phase,” and “The Letter” might be the best showings of this. While I’m on the subject of tempo, however, it’s quite impressive how well the faster songs are integrated into the experience. Even in the most upbeat moments - such as “Everything” and the wonderful summer sway of “Make Me a Song” - those 80s Europop synths and instrumental layers allow Rebound
to maintain its identity all the way through. Truth be told, there’s not much that can even be considered a negative to issue toward the album. Perhaps the variety is slightly lacking in places - it can be pretty easy to tune out sometimes if you’re not paying too much attention - but that’s about all I have. If you haven’t heard Rebound
, I really do encourage you to experience one of the most slept-on pop records of 2018.