Call it detached intimacy: a paradoxical juxtaposition that could just as easily stand-in as a reference to a T.V. movie audience, or even film, itself. Beautifully, darkly, and securely, Shakey Graves delivers a movie soundtrack that wasn’t, with Movie of the Week being the kind of album that seduces a listener into a world that feels accessible only through a suspended disbelief- safer and far more desirable than reality. It’s the kind of art imitating life imitating art- Graves’ human embodiment, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, initially conceived most of the album along to and as a soundtrack for an actual movie- that holds its own conceptual narrative, but quickly becomes much more of a tone piece and a standalone achievement than what may have come from being attached to a scripted affair.
There is an abundance of sing-song melodies that belie the darkness, or wispy crystalline guitars that offset the metallic, industrialized grind of their counterparts, floating above compressed percussion and filtered vocals. Rose-Garcia is wonderfully nimble across the 50-minute, 13-song set, reprising his role as the conflicted dream merchant from his previously brilliant, 2018 effort, Can’t Wake Up, weaving his way through the ether.
Movies have long been immersive playgrounds of the mind, with their storytellers inventing and guiding, and where, as Rose-Garcia offers, ‘Life is but a dream/Sleep beneath a canopy/Please don’t wake me up/Please don’t call.’ It’s heady stuff, but Shakey smartly carries a sense of proportion; never precious or grandstanding or pandering. Instead the album discretely lobs in little grenades about celebrity and culture and its epicenter- Los Angeles- though cleverly from a side angle, as on “Century City.” Rose-Garcia knows, too, how to lighten the load, especially effective with help from the shining Sierra Ferrell on “Ready or Not.”
This is an album, musically, that traffics in a ponderous mist to some degree, but all carefully crafted and with purpose. Like that movie of the week on TV on a Saturday night, it implies a knowing embrace of a second-life; a place where something that maybe once dreamed of being more has settled in to a spot of resigned comfort- not unlike like Century City’s adjacent relationship to the golden ring. As Rose-Garcia opines, ‘It ain’t Beverly Hills/But it ain’t too far.’
This one is for those home on that Saturday night, enjoying the detached intimacy in the shadowy darkness, and asking why that isn’t enough. As an album, it’s more than enough, and another provocative, hypnotic, and progressive artistic statement from Shakey Graves.