For me, there is one "fall album"; just one piece of art I conjure up when I think of a score for the autumnal months.
Of course, that album is Harvest by Neil Young.
Though I believe many people feel similarly about Young’s incredible fourth solo album, my feelings about Harvest relate directly to when I discovered the album. It was fall of my junior year in college and I was unsettled in my apartment. Like any disgruntled student, I took to the streets with a bike and an iPod, playing "Heart of Gold," "Old Man," and the lot repeatedly.
There was something in Young’s warble and his harmonica that made the colors of the setting sun come alive on those bike rides. The music became the soundtrack to the landscape and it transported me away from whatever petty trouble had me feeling aggrieved.
So, when I took on the review of Coed Pageant’s fourth seasons EP, The Fallout, I unwittingly put it up against an album that almost transcends comparison. Which perfectly explains my ho-hum attitude about the EP after the first couple listens.
It was not until I realized what I was comparing The Fallout to that I realized how unfair I was being. Coed Pageant is a fantastic band, one of my favorites in CU, but they are not Neil Young. To make it clear: No one, no duo, no band in C-U is Neil Young, and it is I don’t think anyone would disagree with me on that fact.
So I changed my thought process, and once I divorced myself from the lofty ideal of Harvest, and viewed The Fallout objectively, I was pleasantly surprised.
One of the most striking things about this fourth EP in The Seasons series is its use of rhyhthm. The taps and claps on "Fallout," the bass on "Good Year," the piano on "Henderson (Pt. 1)" – all these are the perfect counterpoint to the vocal pas de deux the Bergstrand’s navigate on the EP. Though its Bradley’s voice that takes the lead, Coed Pageant is really its strongest when Gretchen’s voice is heard in the background, following in time and making the partnership more beautiful for its duality.
If we take the ballet metaphor one step farther, the EP makes even more sense as a representation of autumn. The Fallout is Coed Pageant’s fall suite, or Grand pas.
The entrée is "The End is Near," a short instrumental piece that sets the tone for the following five songs. The middle four songs are the Grand adage: while they build the narrative, which is true to the Italian "ad agio" — at ease. The stories are not literally slow, and neither is the music, but the subject matter frequently confronts with the travails of adolescence and how hard it can be to move past that age, which actually eases my mind tremendously (you know, because I don’t want to really grow up). Finally, "Henderson (Pt. 1)" is the coda, which brings the EP to a conclusion (but also leaves me wanting to hear what part two).
By the end of my fourth or fifth listen through the EP (which is not too long, clocking in at just 15 minutes), I had the refrains from "Over It" and "Wake Up Alone" stuck in my head. What Coed Pageant has created here is not Harvest, but it is certainly one the finest local albums I’ve heard this year.
The Fallout did not become my go-to fall album, but it’s definitely worth a listen or 20 this fall, next fall, or any season.