Dusted Reviews

Archer Prewitt - Wilderness

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Archer Prewitt

Album: Wilderness

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: Feb. 17, 2005

Archer Prewitt's work embodies the spirit of a true Renaissance man. Creator of the Sof’ Boy comic strip, founding member of the beloved retro-lounge act the Coctails, lead guitar player in The Sea and Cake and an occasional solo artist, Prewitt’s career has embraced a number of different musical styles and, to this day, seems an embodiment of Castiglione’s advice to sustain a number of different projects and interests. The Sea and Cake, of course, started out as a super group of sorts, comprised of members of Shrimp Boat, the Coctails and Tortoise. Since forming in the mid-’90s, they have been hailed as the paragon of the cool, brainy style associated with their home city of Chicago. Prewitt’s early solo albums, particularly White Sky, sounded a lot like his work with The Sea and Cake: more overtly catchy, sure, and with more assertive vocals, but with the same elaborate, protracted arrangements. Starting with Gerroa Songs, however, Prewitt ditched a lot of his accompanying instruments and turned to acoustic singer-songwriter fare. Needless to say, his new album, Wilderness, is a change of pace from his former bands, a collection sitting somewhere between icons like Richard Thompson and ’70s soft rock.

The 10 songs on Wilderness don’t share any common themes, although musically they are all similar compositions. Analogies between different mediums are always tricky, but Prewitt, an illustrator and a musician, seems to give his work some of the unobtrusive qualities of visual art. Much of it is background: some songs, such as “Leaders,” lack distinctive hooks altogether, while others, such as “Go Away,” open sparingly and run for several minutes before the arrangement finally comes together. Prewitt also tends to write in a way that bestows the most compelling part of a song on the bridge or on the final fade-out; “Way of the Sun,” the best song on Wilderness, sounds pleasant enough during its introduction and verses, but the real chorus doesn’t appear until it’s nearly two-thirds finished.

Whether or not this style reflects the lingering influence of post-rock on Chicago musicians, it’s still worthwhile to hear an album that pays off over time rather than laboring to keep a listener riveted at every possible moment. Wilderness has a few disposable songs: the second half in particular drags on a little bit as different tracks become pretty much indistinguishable. However, the downtime and background amidst moments of appeal channels the spirit of ’70s AM radio pretty accurately. Wilderness works well as an album, and as another project in Archer Prewitt’s multifaceted career.

By Tom Zimpleman

Other Reviews of Archer Prewitt


Read More

View all articles by Tom Zimpleman

Find out more about Thrill Jockey

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.