Wave With a Broken Arm
Of all the ingenious little sounds that make up the grand sonic tapestry of Dominic Lavoie’s new LP, perhaps the smartest is the very first one we hear. Wave With a Broken Arm begins with a slowed-down, chopped-up version of the iPhone’s default ringtone – a cheerful little marimba loop that has become synonymous with the annoyance of being interrupted. Lavoie and producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, Faith No More) seamlessly weave this bit of sonic ephemera into the sunny synth-pop groove of “On My Phone (All Day),” which eventually coaxes it out of existence like a talented masseuse would a muscle cramp. It’s a sturdy metaphor for the effect this Portland-via-Madawaska singer/songwriter has had since 2006, when his band Dominic and the Lucid dropped its debut. His harmonious approach to psychedelic rock has a way of injecting some joy into even the darkest, coldest day. Even though tracks like “On My Phone” speak to themes like isolation, the music is designed to be welcoming, reminding me of Brian Wilson’s peak-era depression-pop nugget “Busy Doin’ Nothin’.”
Wave With a Broken Arm has a pretty big cast, including cameos from fellow local standouts Katie Matzell and KGFREEZE. Its richly layered sound gives some operatic thrust to Lavoie’s long-simmering ’90s rock influences. “Smoke Yer Lunch” pairs the album’s most addictive riff with the kind of ominous two-part harmonies that imply a heavy Alice In Chains habit. “Trillion Dollar Man” shifts from stoner metal to a shimmering Oasis chorus with the ease of Liam Gallagher flipping off a fan. And the closer, the title track, is a ballad that floats through the ether, its lyrics like soft bulletins, pillowed by reverb. So shut off your phones, everyone. This album deserves our full attention.