Delighting with minimalist string melodies in the soulful “I Was a Fool Before You Were Born,” dabbling in pastoral harmonies in “Young Again” and striking a ghostly chord smothered in bass tones in “Boy in a Garbage Bag,” Streaking in Tongues unleash their most prolific work so far in the new record Live from Lockdown, a live compilation of what I would deem their best material to see widespread release.
There are no bells and whistles for us to get through in Live from Lockdown to access the core of the artistry in the record – in fact, there isn’t much of anything between us and the barebones musical edge that drives home every melodic climax on the LP (and even a couple of the wonderfully grey spots as well). Every song here tends to feel like beat from beneath a blanket-clad fort; there aren’t any synthetic components tying together one verse to the next, nor is there an instance where we’re forced to divide our attention between two equally powerful sets of fireworks. Streaking in Tongues deliver the only must-listen quarantine album of 2020 here, and as most know by now, that’s no small statement for any critic to make.
“Kindergarten Prayer #2” and “Farewell OCD (You Pesky Bastard)” boast a ton of textural presence that makes their harmonies feel like an unfolding aural painting, and while “Little Big Questions,” “Kindergarten Daze,” “Kindergarten Prayer #3” and the revamped “Field of Pineapples” follow a more straight and narrow path, they’re essentially built atop the same creative concept as their grit-heavy counterparts. The flow of the tracklist here transports us into the room with Streaking in Tongues flawlessly; in “Everyone Who Ever Cared” and the record-starting “See Me See Me,” the audio is so dry and unfiltered that the very pulsation of the melody seems to have a physical aspect to it, as though we were witnessing a live performance firsthand. “I Was a Fool Before You Were Born,” “Field of Pineapples” and “Boy in a Garbage Bag” present us with a stunning use of tonal discordance that shapes the chill-inducing nature of the music like nothing else could have, and though they might seem structurally complicated, they’re the most evenhanded tunes on the whole of the LP.
There’s no need for any debate among the critics this season – Streaking in Tongues’ Live from Lockdown is absolutely a strong candidate for album of the year no matter what strain of alternative music you fancy the most, and not because of its charmingly honest lyrical (and instrumental) tone exclusively. Brooding and startlingly progressive in its most evocative moments, Live from Lockdown is further evidence of the magic that this father and son seem to produce whenever they sit down to make music together, and as far as I’m concerned it’s the jewel of their present discography.
It might not have been constructed with a mainstream audience in mind, but for those with a taste for the postmodern, Streaking in Tongues’ new LP is a masterpiece.