Singer/songwriter and 17-year-old phenom Christian Lief take some time off from his gig as a drummer for The Ruralists to explore his own passion for experimental, folk-inspired alt-rock. "Apparatus" is the title track from The Clementines' debut album and features an impressive mix of aesthetic touchstones: from a dreamy vocal presence to intriguing lyrics, and a clear talent for both dynamic arrangements and lush sonic underpinnings. With the production help of Luke Hawley—his neighbor, dad's best friend, and lead singer of The Ruralists—Lief and Luke collect vocal tracks, piano and synth loops, sparse drums, and a keen mix of classical guitars and screaming telecasters into a beautiful and powerful record.
The songs that would become "Apparatus" began as live performances with his little sister on drums, as Lief subsequently translated them into a brooding and exciting set of bedroom rock tunes. While the record certainly covers a list of typical young-adult tropes that includes love, parents, friends, and social isolation, Lief also brings his own remarkable maturity and existential lucidity to the narrative and struggles of a teenager in small town America. "Apparatus" offers an honest analysis of Lief's own creative mind—mixing complex, melancholic imagery with lyrics that explore the dualism of decay and rebirth without pretext or self-consciousness. This wistful gem speaks to the pervasiveness of personal catharsis while building on the memory of a dream, expanding into a dark celebration of uncertainty as Lief concludes with the proverbial realization that some things are simply not meant to be.
Keep an eye out for this talented newcomer from Iowa—his debut album is smart, multifarious, and profound.