A Different Age sounds like it comes from some other place and time. Just as the album’s title suggests, its qualities do not sound contemporary or popular. On it, the gloominess, uncertainty, and alienation born in the digital age come to the forefront.
Nick Rattigan (also known for drumming in Surf Curse) released this album under his solo act Current Joys (formerly Tele/Visions).
At any point during the 46-minute experience it is highly unlikely that more than three instruments are playing at once (not including Nick Rattigan’s voice). Slow rhythmic guitar, a soft, pulsing kick-snare drum pattern, and whatever flavour of synthesizer has been decided upon for a particular song is usually all you’ll get.
It manages to be gentle, but at times forceful. Songs build slowly, and climb up from the bottom of a valley to meet you. On “Fear”, Rattigan’s voice echoes above glowing synths, likening fear to a hurricane. The title track, “A Different Age”, layers on sounds to reach a powerful climax, but never loses its sense of vulnerability or tenderness.
Lyrically, the songs manage to be simple and emotionally heavy. Rattigan sings short, straightforward lines while weaving in little bits of beautiful imagery and simile.
On “Fox” Rattigan sings “I want to slow down but the driver is going too fast, the rain from outside is getting all over the dash.” He comments on the pace of the world around him while referencing rain as fear once again.
The simplistic ballad “My Nights Are More Beautiful Than Your Days” serves up plenty of aching couplets about the difficulties of relationships, new and old. “There’s something between you and me, it feels like a new disease,” sings Rattigan. He can see beauty in the world, but can’t allow himself to see it as such.
On its own, A Different Age is a beautiful, minimalist, slow-burn of an album. It creeps up and makes itself at home in your brain. It is a bummer in the best, most cathartic of ways. However, in addition to Rattigan’s musical skills there are also directorial talents. After directing Girlpool’s “123” in 2017, he has created nine short films to accompany the new album.
Parts of the “visual album” were released throughout January and February as a lead-up to the album’s release in March. The videography and editing, like the music itself, are simple and effective. Plenty of low-budget lighting tricks are put to good use, and each film complements the musical accompaniment.
The themes of youthful angst, intimacy, and fleeting warmth are on full display. “Way Out Here” takes place at what appears to be a county fair; neon lights, games of chance, and hot dog vendors abound. The camera follows someone in a sleeveless denim jacket as they wander the grounds by their lonesome.
“No Words” has an absence of lyrics, colour, and movement. It is a long take of a dark-haired woman lounging and looking at the camera. The viewer’s eyes are drawn about the small area available to see what small detail they can find.
What ends up happening is an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts. The music and the images work together well to create an odd, melancholic art-film project of sorts. Rattigan knows his subject matter well, and executes his sadness-drenched vision well.