Since their formation three years ago, The Extra Texture has produced two albums. On May 19, 2018, they released their sophomore work, “Signals and Lightning”, and easy listening got a little bit smoother.
What once was a group of seven called “Faux Fur and the Extra Texture”, the band trimmed down, tightened up, and now describe themselves as having “evolved to the current lineup.” They recorded both “Palomino”, released in 2015, and “Signals and Lightning” as a four-piece. With Justin Robert Golinski on guitar and vocals, Don Nugget on drums, Nathaniel Mabie on bass, and Brandon Copeland interchanging between keyboard and saxophone, The Extra Texture’s quartet fuses their talents to create a psychedelic, upbeat yet unchallenging record.
The album cover strikes an earthy tone with a complicated and exposed tree root structure. In any documentary about fractals, trees are provided as the prime example of the earth’s eloquent, nuanced, yet natural self-multiplication. In the album cover’s relation to its substance, the melodies throughout shift subtly while cycling back to each song’s core and unfurling again into new refinements.
Benjamin Hunter, engineer of Wolf Den Studio, recorded “Signals and Lightning” and provided it ample clarity that gives the entire album a thoroughly polished character, and the album runs a little over half an hour. The overarching melodies converge to present an album that feels intentionally formed to suit nearly any setting. It’s as easy to imagine letting the music cascade over you on repeat while driving back and forth to work as it is to add local zest to a small gathering. It sounds as suitable in a coffee shop as it would playing over the vocal cacophony of a bar. It is an album that sets an unobtrusive, amiable mood, and sets itself apart because it does not contain aggression, jarring riffs, or anything except for clear harmonics and deep vocals.
While listening to “Signals and Lightning,” even a novice can hear that the musicians are talented with both their individual instruments, and they converge congenially as a band. However, it does not come off as boastful. It’s more akin to sharing coffee with an agreeable peer who’s been around the block, so to speak, a few more times than you yourself.
Throughout the album, the drums and the saxophone are given ample time to shine, either individually, or in snappily enjoyable duets. The end of “Is It So?” is one of those songs: the cooperation between Nugget and Copeland add extra pizzazz in the outro of the danciest on the album. It begins with a keyboard sound reminiscent of something almost disco, and then the vocals, guitar, bass, and drums join in an easy groove coupled with just enough kick to keep you moving.
“City Works” stands out as the most vocally-driven song on the album. The rhythm is upbeat and feature quite a few punches, but the lyrics suggest to me that the song is hinting at infrastructure, and the failed vision of a utopia. The chorus is dangerously catchy; as Golinski sings “I fell in love / with impossible dreams,” the instruments riff harder, and that melody will remain for days. Aside from its bolder delivery, the mantra also works because just about anyone can relate to the sentiment. It ends on a plaintive note regarding the reality of a city’s abandonment, but the album presses onward and refrains from any further existential ruminations.
Returning once more to Brandon Copeland, his performance on saxophone receives, perhaps, the most consistent and reverential attention from the other instruments. Although Copeland juggles it with keyboard, the saxophone consistently stands out whether it’s humming into the song and fading out again, or whether it’s exciting the album with an energetic jaunt. “Cause and Effect” is most notable for its comparatively lengthy sax intro that leads with a toe dipped in chaotic music before reining back in to provide the listener with the easy, groovy experience that they’ve already come to expect after the first three songs.
“Same Same” possesses that sort of easygoing pick-me-up that feels aimed at lightening up the spirits of anyone who has had a bad day. It sounds buoyant, almost reminiscent of devil-may-care ska, and is filled out by Copeland’s saxophone. The lyrics run along a few everyday ruts that anyone is bound to experience once or twice in their lives, like a broken down car, and intermixes it with psychedelic imagery, like flowers in the sky. It offers a gentle reminder to think of the big picture even when the day’s mood is “sinking ship.”
“Signals and Lighting” by The Extra Texture does not try to posture as anything but what it is: a sometimes ponderous, sometimes hopeful, and consistently perky album. Its content offers plenty of “pick-me-ups” and feel good rhythms; therefore, it is also not a work that asks hard questions or offers harder answers. If you are looking for an album that you can sunbathe to, have a water balloon fight to, drive to the beach to, or just relax in your home to and forget, for thirty-five minutes, the crushing weight of the world and its problems, “Signals and Lighting” will fulfill those needs.