We’ve all been to “the party”. A special occasion (or no occasion at all), with friends (or a bunch of strangers), mini ecosystems where anything and everything can happen. Any gathering where a gaggle of people Reach varying levels of intoxication has the potential for ugliness or beauty, but one universal truth about parties is that, even at their dullest, most boring moments, there’s always an interesting story unfolding. As Andy Shauf puts it, in “a city the size of a dinner plate,” over the course of one night, the whole spectrum of human emotion can occur; while many may gather in one little, drunken bubble, each person leaves with a totally different experience. Shauf’s new album, The Party, revolves around his keen observations and feelings. As he sits at the centre of the dinner plate, guests spin around him, feeling love, feeling lonely, dancing, being laughed at, dying and eventually go home.
Everyone is there: Jimmy, Sherry, Alex, Martha, and ever observant Andy. Shauf’s music perfectly encapsulates the party feeling–euphoric, fun and a little sad–and creates vivid pictures of the chaotic goings-on happening around him. “Everybody’s laughing at me, I wished I’d just stayed home”, laments one guest on “Twist My Ankle”, Shauf perfectly capturing their embarrassment. Jimmy’s best friend says “You know I’ve never really met someone like you,” to Sherry, and she says the same back to him on “Quite Like You”, and though it’s hard to tell if either one really means it, the fog of the night rolling on makes whole scene feel real.
Along with being easy on the ears, all of the stories/songs on The Party are infinitely relatable. Who hasn’t listened to the “half-wit spilling his guts over a bottle of wine”, or scoured a house party in pursuit of a friend who may or may not be “running around or running away” from you? Heading home at the end of the night, you’re relieved the drama is over, but you can’t help but wonder what the next party will have in store. You’ll feel much the same way at the close of The Party, one of the year’s most vivid and relatable albums. At the end of heartbreaking closer “Martha Sways,” you’ll hope to be invited back to Shauf’s party over and over again.