Librarians’ second album deftly combines danceable, slightly funky beats with touches of psychedelia. It’s a winning combination that results in songs that have both memorable grooves and more spacey moments. “Wait and See” encapsulates this style, starting with a simple kick drum-and-cymbal beat and a high-pitched, reverb-soaked guitar while Ryan Hizer and Trey Curtis sing “Wait and see / Have some patience with me, please / I’m sorry if you grow a little tired”. After sitting on this drum-and-guitar figure for two minutes, a new guitar line pops up in the final minute to give the song a countermelody.
“Hard to Unwind” finds the band playing with more urgency, with a thumping drumbeat accompanied by nonstop sleigh bells and driving bass guitar. The repeated refrain “Our good times / Became hard times / Now we find / It’s hard to unwind” is a great hook, and the band leans on it effectively. “Hard to Unwind” is a bit of an unusual song on the album, though, because most of Present Passed gives the impression of being laid-back. Librarians’ songs go down easy, but there is strong songwriting behind the beats and oddball touches. It makes Present Passed stick with the listener after the album ends.
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