Tim Heidecker - High School Music Album Reviews

Tim Heidecker - High School Music Album Reviews
The comedian-turned-musician’s concept album about his adolescence tunnels toward a series of deeper truths about how we end up as the adults we are.

Over the past decade, in his musical side-career away from comedy, Tim Heidecker has amassed a deep catalog of soft-rock songs about mortality and heartbreak, political dystopia and everyday existentialism. And yet, one of the most poignant tracks on his latest album, High School, is mostly about a Neil Young video—more specifically, Young’s 1993’s Unplugged performance of “Harvest Moon.” The story goes like this: Heidecker is a teenager in Allentown, Pennsylvania, watching MTV on a Saturday night. Transfixed by Young’s performance, he learns the song on guitar and plays it for his parents. They say he sounds great, but then again, that’s what they say about everything he does. He goes out and buys the album and feels disappointed by the more elaborate studio rendition. Eventually, he learns to appreciate that version, too, and includes it on a mix CD for a crush, who breaks up with him not long after.

As far as autobiographical songwriting goes, this is not the most riveting source material. And as Heidecker sings it—one humdrum detail at a time, with little poetic embellishment—he seems to amplify just how ordinary the whole thing is. But there is something profound and true about Heidecker’s journey through the past on High School, a home-recorded concept album about his adolescence. Co-produced with a backing band of Drew Erickson, Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats, and Mac DeMarco, the music glides with the reflective sheen of 1980s singer-songwriter statements like Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love and Randy Newman’s Trouble in Paradise. With a buoyant, lived-in sound and some of Heidecker’s warmest and most empathetic writing, each song feels like a spiral toward some deeper truth about how we end up as the adults we are.

Take, for example, the central character in “Buddy,” a local stoner whose devolution into a cautionary tale happens so subtly that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it takes place. It’s a eulogy delivered like a campfire singalong, as Heidecker’s perspective shifts from a character study to a moment of self-interrogation: “Do you think I let you down? We lost touch the minute I moved out of town,” he sings, sadly. Many of the songs take similar leaps, never offering a sense of resolution or a moral to their stories. Instead, Heidecker focuses on why these open-ended childhood memories tend to stick with us, why we revisit them decades later, still turning them over and retracing our steps.

As with everything Heidecker does, from his spot-on parody of Joe Rogan to his multi-part celebrity courtroom spoof The Trial, there is a lightness that allows him to tackle big issues without ever seeming preachy or self-serious. He favors conversational language and intuitive rhymes paired with breezy, major-keys melodies that mask just how sharp his songwriting has become. Even when he’s recounting specific memories, his characters can seem like archetypes, while his more zoomed-out observations (“I’m thinkin’ every day/Hopin’ I can stay this young”) gain real-life resonance from repetition: You may start singing along before you recognize the darker message below the surface.

After collaborating with Weyes Blood on 2020’s ambitious Fear of Death, Heidecker tightens his scope with a smaller group of collaborators: Jonathan Rado adds some “Night Moves”-style piano drama to “Stupid Kid,” and Kurt Vile offers his distinctive electric guitar and speak-sing throughout “Sirens of Titan,” a groovy highlight that could have been a novelty hit in the late ’80s. Otherwise, the record is performed by a core group of musicians, carrying lo-fi textural threads from song to song. The cohesive approach helps unite the material, making less narrative-based tracks like “Future Is Uncertain” sound like moody dream sequences between the larger breakthroughs, circling Heidecker’s adult anxieties before diving into the formative experiences that led him there.

Which brings us back to “Harvest Moon” and Heidecker’s initial fascination in “Stupid Kid.” Dreaming of his own future as a musician, he wasn’t drawn to the open-hearted romance of the lyrics, the crisp, early-autumn harmonies from Linda Ronstadt, or the realization that a song this good could arrive during the fourth decade of an artist’s career. Instead, Heidecker keeps returning to the fact that Young was able to express himself with such a basic set-up—“Didn’t have a band,” he notices, “Just some dude sweepin’ a broom”—and how it made him realize a regular guy like him might stand a chance. Heidecker’s song, of course, ends with a break-up—a reminder that not everybody will always see that potential in him. But that’s not the point: High School glows with the hard-earned belief that someone, somewhere could hear his story and reach the same epiphany about their own future.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Tim Heidecker - High School Music Album Reviews Tim Heidecker - High School Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, July 04, 2022 Rating: 5

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