Given the many guises the songwriting of Mark Eitzel took on after the disbanding of American Music Club in 1995, the band’s 2004 reunion album, Love Songs for Patriots, wasn’t quite the jarring return to form that might have been expected, but more of a subtle dipping back into familiar waters. The band’s new album, The Golden Age (Merge), recalling AMC benchmark California, treads over paths Eitzel first cleared more than a decade ago, only now there’s wisdom where once there was desperation, world-weariness replacing emotional exhaustion. When Eitzel sings “No one is going to save you” on highlight “Decibels and Little Pills,” it may sound like a familiar refrain, but here he comes off resolute instead of at the end of his rope. Elsewhere cuts like “The Dance” may lack such a dramatic lyrical hook, but Eitzel has developed a narrative form that’s just as captivating for its character development and miniature plot lines. Guitarist and only other remaining original AMC member Vudi is the real difference though. In some intangible way, the songs are more firmly rooted for his presence, his intricate playing still the perfect blend of tear-in-a-beer twang and ambient moodiness for Eitzel’s sadsack tales. It would be unfair to say that it’s like no time has passed since the band’s hey day because really it’s specifically time that has produced The Golden Age.
Moviola and the Black Swans will open for American Music Club when they play at Cafe Bourbon Street on Monday, April 14.