Blanket Fort – Rejoice!

The lo-fi aesthetic isn’t as unavoidable as it used to be. Fizzling atmospheres and tape glitches used to be the unavoidable artifacts of the auteur who couldn’t afford to buy a nice recording machine or rent studio time. But ever since Apple decided to include GarageBand on every device they sell, just about anyone can make high-fidelity recordings with what they have on hand. Gorillaz recorded an album on their iPad from the tour bus. Sufjan Stevens released a record largely recorded on his voice memos app in various hotel rooms. Legions of DIY artists have flooded GarageBand and SoundCloud with tracks recorded in dorm rooms and basements that can nearly match the output of Abbey Road or Inner Ear studios.

But sometimes, the sounds of failing equipment can offer an intimacy that a cleanly recorded track cannot. I can’t help but imagine that In the Aeroplane Over the Sea wouldn’t have become as celebrated as it did if the tape itself wasn’t as bursting with emotion as Jeff Mangum’s songs.

Similarly, Rejoice! the new full-length from Blanket Fort, buzzes with the sounds of overloaded tapes, guitars feeding back on themselves, recording glitches, and grainy atmospheres that mirror the tumultuous emotional state of Brett Green’s songwriting.

At first, the atmosphere might seem impenetrably cloudy. Layers of spry acoustic guitars, pianos, overdriven drums, distant horns, and various other buzzing layers are arranged in such a way that it sometimes feels more like a tape collage than a multitracked recording. Green’s vocal tracks are buried in the mix and degraded in quality.

This might give the impression that he’s trying to obscure himself. But somehow, all of the glitching, swirling noises around him make the songs feel more intimate. These seemingly superfluous noises aren’t barriers for him to hide behind. Rather, they’re reflections of the chaos swirling around him during the writing of these songs: the death of his mother, a hospital stay following a stroke, a week-long stint in a county jail…any one of these would be reasonable excuses to despair. Yet in the midst of the squall—much like the sonic storms around his voice—Green found a defiant joy.

And it’s in that joy that this album lives and breathes. For all of the sonic stormclouds swirling around the record, the songwriting itself remains serene, unbothered by the inconsistencies of the recording fidelity, the busy, sometimes atonal instrumental performances, or the seemingly chaotic arrangements. Despite all this, Greene still finds a reason to rejoice. It’s just our benefit that he managed to create a wonderful musical representation of it all.

Rejoice! is out now through Friend Club Records.

Follow Blanket Fort on Facebook, Instagram, and Bandcamp.

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