This is Lorelei Gets Earnest on the Beautiful Box For Buddy, Box For Star

On his solo project’s latest record, Water from Your Eyes multi-instrumentalist Nate Amos sheds off the scrappy skin of his previous efforts and creates his most accessible, mature, and focused work yet.

Music Reviews This is Lorelei
This is Lorelei Gets Earnest on the Beautiful Box For Buddy, Box For Star

With every album by This is Lorelei, the solo project of Brooklyn-based musician Nate Amos, you never really know what you’re gonna get. Across a decade of making music, he’s dabbled in everything from twangy Americana and hyperpop to hazy lo-fi and psychedelia. Each listen is a dive into Amos’s hyperactive, uninhibited mind, a sonic playground whose sprawling, multifaceted design leaves you more invigorated than exhausted. Even Water from Your Eyes, his experimental pop band with vocalist Rachel Brown, offers an exciting glimpse into how easily and deftly he’s able to traipse from one idea to the next. No wonder the Beatles’ The White Album was a formative record for him; the 1968 LP’s hopscotching between different themes and sounds seems to have informed Amos’s interest in avant-garde experimentation.

The endless exuberance and unpredictability that define Amos’s style are especially prominent on his latest record, Box For Buddy, Box For Star, where he continues to hone in on his artistic versatility by dialing into a more earnest, singer-songwriter wavelength. In contrast to his earlier work, which is looser and scrappier in construction and concept, the 10-track Box For Buddy is tight and polished yet brims with the same nimble energy as the rest of his formidably abundant discography. Amos is still tinkering with different genres here—namely, mid-Aughts indie rock, folk, country and synth-pop—but he brings a much sharper focus to this material than anything else he’s done. All the pieces of the playground are still there, just a little more renovated.

Amos’s straightforward approach results in a record that is both striking in its simplicity and downright seamless in its execution, allowing space for his desire to play around and be vulnerable in a way that he hasn’t before. The excellent, poignant opener “Angels Eye,” for instance, is a tender acoustic ballad that mines genuine gravitas from its lyrics on loss and loneliness and cheeky humor from Amos’s use of pitch-shifting, turning it into an endearing and amusing duet with himself. Such clever tonal interplay also recalls Rocket-era Alex G, another prolific, genre-fluid indie artist unafraid to subvert expectations.

In fact, throughout the rest of Box For Buddy, Box For Star, Amos wears a series of other influences on his sleeve, but it never feels derivative or falls into a trap of pastiche. “Perfect Hand” contains touches of the Postal Service with its droopy electronic instrumental and Amos’s lilting vocals. The gentle yet rich “Two Legs” sounds like a lost Elliott Smith demo, with Amos cooing about romantic self-sacrifice in the same whispery register as the beloved late rock singer. Hints of Bright Eyes and Fountains of Wayne abound as well in songs like the minimalist “My Boy Limbo,” the bluesy, electronic title-track and the dreamy “A Song That Sings About You.”

Perhaps Amos’s greatest achievement on Box For Buddy, Box For Star is “Dancing in the Club,” the album’s first single and arguably one of the best songs of 2024, a year already bursting with great music. Incorporating Auto-Tune, a catchy-as-hell piano hook and a hypnotic guitar loop with vague traces of blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?,” “Dancing in the Club” sees Amos sublimely locked in, oscillating between self-deprecation (“But a loser never wins / And I’m a loser, always been”), funny wordplay (“While I was singing Steely Dan / Crying ‘shake it’ in the wind”) and deceptively stunning poetry (“I lay down in that street / My favorite city’s artery”). You get to experience his full emotional spectrum on “Dancing in the Club,” as Amos reminisces over bad memories in one moment and washing them away through a joyful instrumental break in the next. It’s everything you could want in a song and a compelling illustration of Amos’s ability to find the balance between the fun and the sincere.

With Box For Buddy, Box For Star, Amos unlocks the key to his creative potential, drawing from the archive of great American sounds and songwriting and filtering what he discovers through his special, singular lens. One wonders if this will lead Amos to continue forging a path toward something more mainstream, or if it’s merely a once-in-a-career exercise. Never let them know your next move, as the saying goes—but here’s hoping we can expect Nate Amos will bring the same gumption to whatever comes next.

Read our recent profile on Nate Amos here.

Sam Rosenberg is a filmmaker and freelance entertainment writer from Los Angeles with bylines in The Daily Beast, Consequence, AltPress and Metacritic. You can find him on Twitter @samiamrosenberg.

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