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Album Review: Full Walrus, 'hello.'


Full Walrus, hello.
  • Full Walrus, hello.

(Self-released, cassette, digital download, streaming)

In a blurb on Bandcamp, Burlington musician Noah Schneidman, who goes by Full Walrus, describes his new album, hello., in simple terms. "This album has songs on it," he writes. "Those songs took a long time for me to get out. I'm really happy now that they are all here, and all real." These nine bedroom-pop numbers set a dreamlike scene that's both beautiful and sad.

The ambient opener, "Hello / Painted Love," introduces a juxtaposition of lightness and heaviness that crops up throughout the album. Sustained notes on the keys and repetitive "oohs" are hypnotic, and lyrics pivot from high flying to crushing: "Floating now so high off the ground / Spinning through the world that I've found / They told me there's no way to come down / I'm feeling overwhelmed from it now."

One can imagine Donna Hayward and James Hurley swaying to the saxophone-laden "Vegetables" at the Bang Bang Bar in ABC's "Twin Peaks." Adam Slamin serves up the sax on this and two other tracks, bringing brightness to Schneidman's often muted tones. Additional assists come from drummer Patrick Fagan and bassist Dylan Hertzberg, who also lend their talent to the trapped-in-your-own-head anthem "The Wind Howls at Night."

In "Young," which would be at home on a Spotify Focus playlist, distorted vocals direct the ear away from the lyrics and toward the gorgeous trumpet and clarinet stylings of Sam Atallah and Thaya Zalewski, respectively.

More buried vocals in "Me and You" give the poppiest song of the bunch an ethereal quality in the vein of shoegazers such as DIIV or Burlington's Sleeping In.

hello. represents bedroom pop in both sound and practice. Nineteen-year-old Schneidman recorded most of the album himself in his University of Vermont dorm room. Other parts took shape in his mom's basement in the Hudson Valley and at Pine Street Studios in Burlington with Charlie Hill of the disco-punk band Bison, who also assisted in mixing. Dan Goodwin mastered the album.

Some sounds were captured outdoors: For "Reservoir," a song inspired by New York's Ashokan Reservoir, Schneidman created a sample by tucking his iPhone into a plastic cup and recording the sound of tiny waves at the site.

On hello., Full Walrus' music summons adjectives such as dreamy, delicate and unearthly. The lyrics, on the other hand, paint a picture of anxiety and restlessness. Instead of clashing, though, the two vibes complement each other. After all, no album — and no person — is just one thing.

hello. is available March 1 at Full Walrus play an album-release show with Clever Girls and Lean.Tee on Thursday, March 1, at SEABA Center in Burlington.