Perfect Worlds
Perfect Worlds LP/cassette
(SLR 270)
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cassette » $7.00 i want this :: add it to my cart

Tony Jay

Tony Jay

Recorded entirely in 2021, Perfect Worlds, the newest album by San Francisco's mysterious lo-fi pop legend Tony Jay, delivers an intimate record of thirteen dreamy, assured arrangements. Fresh off the heels of "Hey There Flower" (re-released by Mt.St.Mtn after a sold out Paisley Shirt Records run), Perfect Worlds marks Tony Jay's first album with Slumberland Records and further cements Tony Jay's status as dejected crooner of the quotidian par excellence. Drawing inspiration from failed relationships, lack of sleep, a bicycle injury, and depression, Tony Jay pairs catchy melodies and hushed vocals with ethereal instrumental tracks.

Headed by Michael Ramos, the former drummer of April Magazine, and current member of Flowertown, Al Harper, and Sad Eyed Beatniks, Tony Jay began recording in 2006 and added a live band in 2017. Perfect Worlds, recorded in Ramos's bedroom and mastered by Mikey Young, features Kelsey Faber, Alexis Harper, and Cameron Baker, with guest vocals by Karina Gill (Cindy, Flowertown, Sad Eyed Beatniks).

Characterized by subtle observation and wry wit ("If my words disarm, it's just my charm"), Ramos's lyrics embody a restlessness coupled with Tony Jay's signature hopeful resignation. "I wonder if the birds will return this year." Here are the daily ins and outs of heartache, isolation, and yearning. But here too is attention, a will to go on even amidst surrender. Tony Jay will "Walk up that hill without you / for the hundred thousandth time." Ideal company for those days when you're not sure you'll ever make it out the door, Perfect Worlds is a welcome reminder that, "You don't have to make decisions/ the grass will continue to grow."

Studded with instant classics, Tony Jay's new album encapsulates the isolation and loneliness of the past few years. "I watch my neighbor install new lights on his home / I'm quite concerned they'll keep me awake all night." Dreams decay and worlds dissolve. Time passes, tapes get rewound. But even tracks with titles such as "Without Connection" have a way of making listeners feel less alone — comforted by the knowledge that, "From way up here the waves look calm."

With a track called "In Daly City" and song openers like, "The morning news brings in more stories of displacement," this album further solidifies Tony Jay's position as a bard of the Bay. And while Perfect Worlds focuses primarily on the interpersonal and the everyday, it manages to allow moments to accrue, and to let in the larger context: "Isn't it obvious that we're running out of time / like ice in a jar, it melts every time. If the world has your back / then who has your eyes."

"In a perfect world I'd find a place down in the basement," begins the title track, and the refrain repeats, "You just can't escape it." Interspersed with otherworldly instrumental tracks that call to mind a machine struggling to work underwater, whale mating calls (could they be robo whales?) combined with droning synth, horns, chimes, this album also provides space for listeners to make new worlds of their own. Our times may be inescapable, but we're fortunate to be able to wall ourselves in with fantasies of our own creation alongside Perfect Worlds.


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