Fourth of July on the Plains, the debut LP from Lawrence, Kansas band Fourth of July, is a subtle sort of celebration. The project of singer/songwriter Brendan Hangauer, this release has the feeling of a small-scale triumph—weaving some new, small statement out of the familiar instrumentation and tenor of indie pop. The album follows a kind of narrative, as far as I can tell—winning the girl and losing the girl and drinking too much and being jealous of her when she flies to France, or something like that. The songs ring with the confluence of Bishop Allen, though Hangauer’s storytelling aesthetic (and occasionally his melodies) more strongly recall Bright Eyes. “Why Did I Drink So Much Last Night?” is obvious but on point, with twangy Ryan Adams-style guitars and a memorable twinge of regret. All this personal revelation can be frightening, but it can also be adorable—one moment Hangauer sings about wanting to kill the girl in her sleep when he’s drunk, for being mean to him; another moment he’s worried that she’ll beat him up. At their best, as on “Like a Tiger”, Fourth of July finds splendour in heartache and depression—there often seems nothing the singer can do about it, but fuel exquisite music.
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