A five-year project that proves some things are worth taking your time over and may be even better for it.
When filmmaker Richard Linklater made 2014’s ‘Boyhood’, he went about it in the unconventional sense that the film’s 10-year time span was recorded in real time; a choice that enabled the finished product to authentically capture the zeitgeist of the periods in which it was set. Texan trio Under the Rug went about creating ‘Dear Adeline’ with a similar idea in mind; which is to say, the album was made over a period of five-years and chronicles the range of life events that vocalist Casey Dayan went through as he went through them. The opening track (and the album’s namesake) was written in the aftermath of the death of Dayan’s mother and it deals with his grief through the lens of reconnecting with an old acquaintance. “Dear Adeline / Are you surprised to hear from me now? / The neighbor’s been quiet since mamma died / Polly’s closed down for good,” he sings gently at first, his intensity building against the gradual swell of the music that reaches cinematic heights by the track’s end. ‘I Was Wrong’ sees Dayan woefully express regret over being blind to the faults of another (“I faintly remember somebody told me / They had a feeling you were no good / But I couldn’t hear them / ‘Cause I wasn’t ready to admit / I was wrong”), while ‘My Best Friend’ sees him similarly look back on a past relationship with a new understanding and gain a new sense of relief with it now behind him (“Now that it’s over / I can lay my head down at night / Finally sober / I can reacquaint myself with my best friend: me”).
‘Feathers in the Sun’ takes an interesting stream of consciousness style approach to a breakup: “Pale moon, passing car / Light on wall creeps / Ceiling fan, red pill,” Dayan sings in an attempt to distract himself and move on. On the intriguingly titled ‘Stuffed Monkey Farewell’, he pulls off some impressive, soaring vocals that call to mind some of the best elements of Soundgarden. While ‘Eating Carrots’ is easy to dismiss as a short, raw punk demo of a track, but when you consider that a lot of these songs were composed in the throes of grief, it gains a new level of poignancy that makes its inclusion a fitting one.
Starting fittingly dreamy in tone before progressing to something rockier, ‘Go to Sleep’ tackles insomnia. “Go to sleep, forget about tomorrow / Forget about the lonely and the sorrow,” Dayan is positively screaming by the track’s end, utterly desperate for some relief from his own thoughts. ‘As Long As You’re Here’ is a brief but beautiful, piano driven ballad with sweet, lilting vocals, while both ‘Don’t Look Down’ and ‘Some Kind of Hell’ strike an early-00s indie rock tone (with the later of the two heading into shoe gazing territory as it stretches out for almost six minutes), with both tracks lamenting the misery that comes with modern life.
“If you’re not surprising yourself or learning something through the songwriting process then your songs will probably be boring,” Dayan has said of his writing approach for this album and his boundary pushing can be felt throughout, from the emotional lyrics to the expensive richness of the music. Most artists probably wouldn’t have the patience to let a project run for half a decade before it came to fruition, but ‘Dear Adeline’ shows that some things really are worth waiting for.
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