By Jackson Tarricone
The music of A.D. Wells is a lo-fi reinterpretation of the pop minimalism championed by bands like Phoenix and The Strokes. Under the A.D. Wells alias, Rider College student Ethan Duer sings almost exclusively in falsetto, hovering just above a whisper as if to remind you to not wake anybody else up. His to-the-point approach to the guitar is reminiscent of Pixies’ Joey Santiago (minus the noise) while the lo-fi synths and drum machines are inspiringly toyish; there is nothing stopping you from expressing yourself through music.
This is the sophomore effort from A.D. Wells, following last year’s The West Hollywood Broken Hearts Club. The title, Mary, This is My Dress, is a testament to the raw, immediate emotional quality of the music; through this declarative statement, Wells is laying all of his emotions out for all of us to see. The title, albeit confident, is also unclear in meaning, indicating that we must listen closely to find meaning for ourselves. The two records are very similar, which should come as no surprise as Wells began making this record the same year that he finished his debut. The single “Don’t Fall” has a similar vibe to the lead single from the last record, “Crush.” Both are by far the most uptempo track on their respective albums and both are emotionally ambiguous, wavering from wistful to melancholic depending on your mood.
What sets this record apart from the last, however, is the incorporation of acoustic guitar. Wells’ sound palate up to this point has been strictly electronic, so this was certainly interesting. Acoustic instrumentation compliments his barebones style very well on the two excellent tracks in which it appears, “Sweet Honey” and “Charleston.” To that end, the closing track also features a grand piano with haunting sustains reminiscent of “Reservations” by Wilco.
The sophomore record from A.D. Wells illustrates his incredible ability to transcribe the mercurial emotions of the night into sound. Listening to his music evokes the deafening silence of an evening spent entirely in your own head amidst a whirlwind of feelings, both good and bad. Whether you are up late doing work, reflecting on your day, or simply listening to music, A.D. Wells’ emotionally gripping but not overbearing narratives adapt seamlessly to your situation.