MR|Review – Jed Whedon, "History of Forgotten Things"

Whedon’s quirky, warm indie-pop is recommended if you like the Shins, Imogen Heap, or The Postal Service, though Jed’s album is more theatrical (in a good way!) and diverse than any of those groups.  (Stream 3 tunes here, including the incredible “Tricks On Me,” which drew me in to the record.)

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UPDATE 19-Aug: As I listen to the record at least once a day, the word that comes to me is “compelling.”  It’s got hooks, yeah, but it’s got something more that keeps pulling me back.  Beautiful.

Vocal melodies and performances, and production, are “History…”‘s strengths.  I hang on this album’s words in a way I only rarely do, and the lyrics are supported by a strongly identifiable melodic voice and instrumental sounds and arrangements that give each song its own vibe.  Whedon covers a lot of territory, too, from the spacey “Ancestors” to the soft alt-country vibe of “Tricks…”.  Each tune has a sprinkle of wonderful little sonic details; even different sections of songs are jumping out to me after repeat listens (like the bridge in “To Be Money”).

A couple songs feature drum fade-ins that highlight the GarageBand-ness of the whole project and forgo the opportunity to make higher-impact entrances, but you may well find that endearing instead of how it mildly disappoints a structure-nerd like me.  For future tours and/or recordings, a live drummer (hi!) could add another dimension of rhythmic and dynamic variation to Jed’s tunes.  The drum programming is good overall, and there are some nice touches, so I assume Jed got what he wanted out of whatever tool he used; I just would have made some slightly different choices in that department.

“History…” bears its relationship to the rest of the Whedonverse – “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog” and “Commentary! the Musical,” “Dollhouse,” Felicia Day (who shows up on violin here), Maurissa Tancharoen, and brother Joss – lightly.  Previous encounters with this network of artists may add to your appreciation of the album, but are not at all prerequisite. -h

MR|Review directs readers’ limited attention among works via ratings, and within works via prose, focusing on works where our opinion diverges from critical or popular consensus, or we have significant insight that compliments or challenges readers’ aesthetic experience.