Peaks And Valleys

Peaks And Valleys

by Chris Richards & the SubtractionsChris Richards & the Subtractions


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Chris Richards has been a hero to Midwest power pop fans for close to three decades, but thankfully he's not content to rest on his laurels. Released in 2018, Peaks and Valleys is his third album with his combo the Subtractions, and while it's full of fine tunes, plentiful pop hooks, and ringing guitars galore, just like 2009's Sad Songs of the Summer and 2012's Get Yer La La's Out, this effort adds some new elements to his formula. Since the last time Richards took the Subtractions into the studio, the group has expanded to a quartet, with Richards (vocals and guitar), Todd Holmes (bass), and Larry Grodsky (drums) joined by Andy Reed, who contributes guitar, keyboards, and vocals, as well as co-producing the album with Richards. (Reed is also Richards' bandmate in another project, the Legal Matters.) With Reed on board, the Subtractions sound fuller and richer, still efficient but with a greater sense of dynamics than before, and the speedy chug of Richards' guitar has evolved into something more evocative. The harmonies are better on this set, with Reed a splendid vocal match for the headliner. And as the title suggests, Peaks and Valleys boasts an emotional range that's broader than that of the first two Subtractions LPs. "Half Asleep," "The Coast Is Clear," and "The End of Me" are upbeat and full of energy, which has long been Richards' stock in trade, but there's a moody undertow to "Call Me Out" and "Just Another Season" that conveys a heartache Richards hasn't often explored with this band, and the final one-two punch of "Thirteen" (a cover of Big Star's classic tale of adolescent longing) and "Weekend" packs an emotional wallop that sets this album apart. With Peaks and Valleys, Chris Richards & the Subtractions conjure both sunshine and shadow, and find beauty and heart on both sides. It's a welcome step forward from an artist who has always had plenty to offer.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/04/2018
Label: Futureman Records
UPC: 0798576508425
catalogNumber: 23
Rank: 191273

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