Francisco The Man – Loose Ends Review

'Loose Ends' carries the same ghosts that made one of the best album's of the last decade work.
Fat Possum / Small Plates, 2014
Purchase: Fat Possum / Amazon

7.5 / 10

There’s something indelible about …And You Will Know Us From The Trail Of Dead’s landmark 2002 album Source Tags and Codes. Even a dozen years after its release, the album still feels raw and vital. Is it timeless? Maybe so, but I think the more interesting question is why that album is so well-regarded and why it holds up so well over time. There’s an immediacy to Source Tags and Code‘s musical arrangements that so perfectly mirror the emotional context of the lyrics of the album. To put it another way, that record’s music is loud, fast, and full of cascading dynamics, and the emotions and themes of the album synchronize with this perfectly.

It’s unlikely that Francisco The Man tried to write an album that sounded like Source Tags and Codes. After all, they’re kind of a noise pop band, whereas …And You Will Know Us From The Trail Of Dead fits firmly within the realms of post-rock. Nonetheless, Francisco The Man’s new album, Loose Ends, stirs up a lot of the same feelings and sounds that the former band did. Despite these two bands having different approaches and different genres, it’s that same immediacy that propels these albums into something else, something different. While the instrumentation is rich in detail and expertly recorded, it’s not lifeless — there’s an energy that makes Loose Ends swirl. On top of that, the vocals are similarly go-for-broke in their delivery throughout the record. Even when Loose Ends stretches its legs — the 8-minute-plus “In My Dreams” and “I Used To Feel Fine” — the band cruises along on its latent energy. It’s not especially hard-hitting, and it’s not particularly fast, it’s just the perfect balance of technical musicianship and loose recording.

While I can’t say that Francisco The Man double down on vocal hooks, which Loose Ends could have used a bit more of, there’s a lot here to love. Without the strong vocal melodies, Loose Ends is fantastic in the moment, but it doesn’t pull you back after its run time is over. It’s easy to get lost in the texture, the atmosphere, and the emotion of Loose Ends, but it’s also easy to leave it behind.

Key Tracks:
“You & I”
“Progress”
“I Used to Feel Fine”