Eric D. Johnson, the one constant force behind the indie rock band Fruit Bats, announced the dissolution of that band last year, which seemed sad news at the time, as they were one of those bands who would reliably release a quality album of new tunes every couple of years or so over the past decade and a half. But with various other musical commitments (serving as a member of the Shins, scoring films, etc.) it wasn’t surprising that he might require a bit more freedom to work as a free agent. And lo and behold, he reemerges as EDJ with a self-titled album that takes full advantage of having nothing holding him back.

Despite it being a “solo project,” he has plenty of help from friends and prior associates throughout, including members of Yellowbirds, Vetiver, Califone, Shudder to Think and Mr. Shin himself, James Mercer. But it does seem to be among his most focused albums to date, with a slightly more melancholic bent to the still-catchy-as-heck pop melodies. Songs like the album’s opener, “For the Boy Who Moved Away,” can’t help but look backwards, both lyrically and musically, with a riff that glistens with the same kind of auburn glow as the best AM Gold tracks of yesteryear. It feels like a refreshed new start, but from a veteran of the game, where experience helps avoid the pitfalls of unnecessary total reinvention. It is more of what we’ve come to expect from Johnson, merely under a different guise (and I’ve always been partial to people who use their initials anyways).

-Eric J. Lawrence

Track List:

1. For The Boy Who Moved Away
2. Lose It All, All The Time
3. Odd Love
4. Minor Miracles
5. The Magical Parking Lot
6. Salt Licorice
7. A West County Girl
8. Mostly Just Fantasies
9. For Joy
10. Child In The Wind
11. The Mountains On Fire (In The Rearview)

Photo courtesy of the artist; Credit: Annie Beedy