Faris McReynolds, who also makes music as the minimalist avant-garde pop project One Finger Riot, takes a totally different songwriting approach as Exdetectives. McReynolds made the Exdetectives debut album Take My Forever (Feb. 14th, 2012, Post Planetary) in a quick two-week fit of recording and plays all of the instruments on the record himself, save for the drums, which he explains were played by Ted Scarlett (who also mixed the album), because “He nailed the ideas I showed him in fewer takes than I could.”
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Take My Forever’s first single “The Lawn” is a droning wash of guitars and live -- as in not programmed -- synthesizers. “I wanted it to be this mass of sound that stays in place all the way through the song. No dynamics, just this wide swirl of textures,” McReynolds says. “It’s got loud distorted guitars, yet it manages to come off as mellow. I’m proud of that because guitars can get old really fast.” Of the lyrical content of the tune, McReynolds confesses that the song is about “Looking into my own nature, not really liking what I see, and pleading for someone to give me a chance to change.”
This kind of candor is all over Take My Forever. “The point of Exdetectives is for me to be as direct as possible and to not get bogged down with deconstruction or being self-critical,” says McReynolds. “I want this project to be intentionally not eclectic in any way.” This unconventional approach (by today’s indie music standards, certainly) comes from a man whose artistic intents have been well developed. McReynolds was already a successful fine artist whose paintings were flying off of gallery walls when he decided to abandon the art world and return to his first love of music.
“All of the money I made selling paintings was spent on musical instruments, microphones, studio time, and engineers,” he says. “I wrote these songs while turning away from my life as a painter. I just needed to play guitar and make noise. With Exdetectives, I’m paying tribute to the music of my youth,” McReynolds says. “Britpop bands like Blur, Ride, and Elastica, first wave indie rock like Dinosaur Jr. and also The Beatles which I didn’t hear until after I’d gone through punk. This music is about being straightforward and letting the songs do the work. It’s loose, casual and direct. Hopefully something I didn’t plan for comes out of that approach,” he concludes.
Owing to this methodology, the sessions for Take My Forever were done on an incredibly low budget, with vocals being recorded in a storage closet full of old paintings, for example. “I rented a big empty room for a week to track everything else,” McReynolds says. It’s a radical approach to making a record that bears itself all the way down to the title itself. “The title of the album is me saying, ‘Here, you can fucking have it. Make of that what you will.”