I once visited Portland, Oregon, and it was a pretty chill place. I went to a vegan bar and ate an artisanal taco from a food cart among down-to-earth twenty-somethings. Everyone was carefree and calm; many were bearded.
This is the strange and wonderful land from which Post Moves, a project of Sam Wenc, hails, and the (admittedly reductive) characterization shows in their music. The band’s last album, Reset Father Time (2015), borrowed from the chillest of classic and indie rockers, Neil Young and Yo La Tengo, to create a dreamy collection of tunes for wandering quiet, wet streets in the early morning.
On Post Moves’ new track, “Romantic Dimwits,” Wenc returns with the same voice, which sounds so at ease that you imagine the microphone resting next to someone lounging in a screened-in porch or living room—an impression supported by production that is lo-fi and airy. There’s self-deprecating humor and talk of “booty shakers” and “my imposter vintage guitars.”
But “Romantic Dimwits” isn’t entirely the stuff of Portland stereotypes or the half-awake meditation of Post Moves’ last work. From the marching percussion on every beat to the wandering, clean guitar riffs, the whole song buzzes with a frenetic energy. Wenc’s voice and its melodic phrasings are filled with pauses and enjambments that mask the reason for all that nervous buzzing: In 13 short lines, “Romantic Dimwits” encompasses the raging tension between caring and not caring, hating to feel but fearing not feeling at all. The same voice that sings the words “booty shakers” sings the crushing line, “I look upon a field of iced-over dreams / Baby in this life I am thawing meat.” Far from the gentle image of its creators and the city they come from, it is a song that packs an existential punch.