Sam Himself - Never Let Me Go (Album Review)

Maybe songs don't need to be about anything to be about something. This seems to be the case for the pieces of Sam Himself, a musical project led by Swiss-born NY implant Sam Koechlin. His painfully cool vocal delivery is low in the mix and used to perfume odourless lyrics, full of cliches and platitudes of getting older and being in love. However, it works. Who needs witty, philosophical quips or politically charged stream-of-consciousness when there are other things to do? There are only so many hours in the day, yet most activities will be pleasantly serviced by Never Let Me Go, the second LP from Koechlin, a polished collection of consistently poignant songs that don't require your attention but rewards it.  

Koechlin is a Swiss artist who made New York his home over a decade ago. Bagels and yellow taxis can be heard in his music, a quickly played type of East-Coast confessional adult alternative, like on the driving opening track "Strangelove", which mixes Graceland etiquette with lounge act personality, or the fine "Golden Days", the passion of which seems restrained in a cage of metronomic drums. However, the alluring "Mr Rockandroll" makes the most indelible impression, an after-hours track that sees Koechlin going down darker alleys, both sonically and lyrically. The ten tracks never hit a snag too big to void the legitimacy of the album. Not even the morose choir-laden relative snoozefest of the title track, the chorus of which is basically a rewriting of "What's love got to do with it?" or the neither-here-nor-there "Blue mountain" can sabotage the experience (thanks to the melody and unrelenting mood), nor can they salvage the album from being a collection of mainly passive though impressive songs.  

The generality of the lyrics, no matter how stylish their execution or glossy their production, means these multi-layered and punchy songs are largely unmemorable. Their ability to sneak into the background stems from their disinterest in occupying the listeners' thoughts, instead appealing to instinct. It's very similar to the language of love, which replaces grammar with tact, and why Never Let Me Go is essentially a makeout record, a good one at that.