Album Review: Peter Matthew Bauer – Liberation!

Peter Matthew Bauer released his album Liberation! via Mexican Summer on June 24th in the US. For the 11-track album, Bauer trades in his bass and organ for a guitar, and thoughtfully weaves Bohemian vibes and modern folk rock together for an interesting sound. As his first solo album since his split with The Walkmen, Bauer exits the role of backup and takes on the task of frontman.

The album opens with “I Was Born in an Ashram,” which starts with rhythmically chanting voices as if you’re immersed in a moment of religious worship. Immediately, a guitar cuts through the chanting and picks up a chill melody. The relaxed, soothing background is reminiscent of “Mad World” by Tears for Fears. The lyrics speak of spirituality and letting it completely take hold of you. It becomes positive with words like “the future is ours” and suits the title of the album very well. The track fades out into more chanting.

The third track titled “Philadelphia Raga” has plenty of Indian flair and calmness. The track starts with nearly two minutes of raga style that changes into quicker paced rock. In the music video, you can see Bauer drive around in a pickup truck through various Philadelphia scenes such as the Divine Lorraine and Girard College. You can feel the excitement start to pick up as it shifts from raga style to rock.

The title track is exciting from start to end. The drums under the frantic vocals are moving along just as frantically. It almost seems like a church congregation where a leader preaches, in this case Bauer, and the crowd responds by repeating their words. The constantly repeated word is “liberation,” and hearing it over and over is extremely satisfying and freeing.

Bauer is vocal about having grown up in an ashram in New York City, so it is no wonder that he is so heavily influenced by both Indian techniques and American urban rock in many tracks, including “Fortune Tellers,” “Shiva the Destroyer,” and “Shaved Heads & Pony Tails.” Liberation! is different from work by The Walkmen and it’s interesting to see how much personality is hiding inside just one member of a band.

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