Avey Tare – Cows On Hourglass Pond – Album Review

Written by on March 2, 2024

Avey Tare – Cows On Hourglass Pond – Album Review by Joshua Reedy.


My copy: 2019 deluxe pressing with bonus 10” by Domino.

If Dave Portner (AKA Avery Tare) has proven anything across his now lengthy musical career, it is that he is a firm proponent of contrast. Where the instrumentally warm and inviting Eucalyptus thrived in themes of heartbreak, depression and loss, Cows On Hourglass Pond throws comparatively hopeful melodies and lyrics over icy keys and precise arrangements. Certainly more mellow and reserved, Cows seems to be a step towards more humble compositions.

The atmosphere is as watery and nebulous as ever when the feeble vocals appear on “What’s The Goodside?” as the music slowly thaws out with digital drum loops and slick, intentional guitar. Where Eucalyptus played loose at times with acoustic guitar, this new effort cradles and bobs thoughtfully with calculated brush strokes. The artificial gallop of mood-piece “Eyes On Eyes” splashes with teasing vocals before the bass finally ping-pongs out of the relative minimalism. “Nostalgia In Lemonade” buzzes and sputters before rebooting into a lax, swooning pulse complete with snake rattles.

“Saturdays (Again)” embraces the tropical vibe found on the previous record with a smooth, danceable swagger – like a cool, unyielding breeze tinted by the faintest dash of melancholy in the vocals. Gaseous and wide is the streaking atmosphere of “Chilly Blue,” while “K.C. Yours” slowly builds into one of Avey’s most anthemic choruses of this era; backed by warm drones and manic yelps. “Our Little Chapter” and “Taken Boy” both play to bittersweet emotion, with the former basking in warped subspace as the latter sits comfortably amidst modest arpeggios, like beams of light filtering through a stained-glass window.

The steady programmed bass drum of “Remember Mayan” bumps along with entrancing vocal runs, as bright synth exchanges glances with careful bass melodies. “HORS_” is slow and delicate, lingering and finally shuffling as Tare waxes poetic on the passage of time.

Cows On Hourglass Pond is not Avey Tare’s most assertive message, and yet it stands out for its contextually quaint ruminations. Though not quite his most ambitious release either, it also knows when to trim the fat unlike the more indulgent Eucalyptus. Most of Cows passes quietly and elegantly, like the reaching shadow of winter across a moonlit forest – occasionally batting back the cold with sing-along campfire tunes. Perhaps not his most potent work, but moving in the correct circumstances.



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