- Louis John Louis, Louis John Louis
I love a good mystery album. They usually arrive by email in the form of a link to a record the artist invariably recorded at home. No lyrics, no descriptions, just that link to a passion project, often made by someone with no designs on pushing the record.
Louis John Louis' self-titled debut came as just such a mystery. A solo project of South Burlington's Jeff Crozier, Louis John Louis is a surprisingly slick, highly listenable indie-pop record.
Crozier recently moved to Vermont from Austin, Texas, where he played with acts such as singer-songwriters Danny Malone and Molly Burch. He revealed in an email that he's had a tough time finding a project since he relocated, writing, "I overestimated my social skills when moving to a strange city."
After listening to the seven tracks on his solo record, I'm not sure he needs the collaborators.
Leading off the record, "so long, Austin" is a three-minute blast of indie rock that finds Crozier reflecting on his final days in Texas. "No farewell / Just as well / Best get back to my room / it's so still," he sings over an ironically celebratory chord progression that adds a sneer to the song. It's an impressive bit of songwriting that captures that specific sensation of knowing when it's time to go.
There's a little of the Shins' James Mercer in Crozier's vocal delivery, as well as a hint of Elliott Smith. His melodies move cleverly, sometimes more rhythmic and sometimes slipping around in an almost playful fashion.
Louis John Louis is a remarkably full-sounding album on which Crozier plays every sound. It's clear he has a lot of tools at his songwriting disposal. On the epic, seven-minute-plus track "Oceanside/DWMYPOS," Crozier lays down horns, walls of synths, echo-laden electric guitars and a driving rhythm section, shading into space-rock territory. The song ends with a full three minutes of jamming.
Pulsing stabs of guitar and piano herald "can't keep up" before a sweeping arrangement, complete with xylophone hits, adds a bit of ceremony to the song. Crozier sings of black lights and the sound of cash falling in "a room full of smokers / some wincing in pain / but they don't keep time in this place." His songs are worlds unto themselves, full of vivid detail.
After the elegiac piano instrumental "Ben & Vanessa are getting married," Crozier bites with gently phrased venom on "aging hipster gives pause." It's a shot at the Instagram influencers, the people with big plans who end up standing around drinking and existing in a state of nothingness. "If you're young and you look good enough / You don't have to do nothing you don't want to, honey / But you may suffer more than some / When the lines come," he warns.
Louis John Louis is a record made by someone leaving a party of which he had grown long tired. Maybe it's Crozier's farewell to Austin; maybe it's just the songwriter realizing he's entered another stage of his life. Either way, it's a strong debut full of character.
Louis John Louis is available to stream on Spotify.