The Los Angeles-based band Idaho started out as part of the early 90s slowcore scene in California, with their 1993 debut and subsequent early LPs drawing comparisons to bands like Red House Painters, and American Music Club. While those bands either fell by the wayside or disintegrated into nothingness, Idaho soldiered on through the next decade, remaining in relative obscurity throughout their existence. It's been 6 years since their last release, the experimental the Lone Gunman, but the band has now returned with a slightly more traditional sounding record, You Were A Dick.
Most of the album's 14 songs are gentle, musically sparse compositions, with lightly processed synth, multi-tracked guitar sounds, and steady but minimal percussion. This palatable musical background works as a perfect stage for singer-songwriter Jeff Martin's vocals and lyrics. Lyrically, he has an ability to make profound or at least emotionally affecting statements without saying much at all, lending itself to the album's brevity. Few of these songs top the 3-minute mark, but none of them feel rushed or incomplete.
Vocally, Martin operates like an affected Mark Kozelek. He's probably capable of reaching the vocal highs and lows of the Red House Painters frontman, but either aware that he doesn't need to or simply to shy to do so on record. Either way, these songs benefit from that reservedness.
Most of You Were A Dick's sound is exemplified by the title track. "You Were A Dick" is not emotionally crushing or incredibly depressing, but rather it is sad in a very understated way.The band does branch out from this formula for some songs, however. On "The Space Between", Idaho sounds relatively happy, even though this is mostly due only to the increased tempo. This track may stick out to some, but in my opinion it adds a needed feeling of variety to the album.
You Were A Dick is now streaming in its entirety on Idaho's bandcamp page, embedded above. The record is available to buy digitally, on CD, and in a limited vinyl release on their bandcamp page as well.