Just Another Ordinary Day starts in a moody place, sounding like your average indie-rock album. Then things get weird. As you might already know, I have a high tolerance for weird. In this case, artist Patrick Watson pushes that tolerance right to the brink of incredulity.
Watson is obviously not a lyrics-based kind of guy. This is my first issue. I realize that it’s entirely personal; I care, and probably some other people don’t. But I can barely understand what Watson is saying, and I’m starting to think that it really doesn’t matter to him. This album is more about mood, tone, and general nightmarish qualities.
The first track on the album and also the title track, “Just Another Ordinary Day”, leaves me unsatisfied. Part of me thinks this is a ploy to make me listen to the rest of the album, but to be honest I get a little exhausted by songs just ending abruptly. There’s no easing in or out, just, “Bang!” and it’s over. But then track two, “Woods”, seems to pick up exactly where “Just Another Ordinary Day” left off. All this makes me wonder if the point was to create a concept album, because if I weren’t following along, I would never have known where one song stopped and the next began.
The genre of Just Another Ordinary Day swings between alternative rock and jazz, strung together with a lot of piano. It’s Loreena McKennit meets Broken Social Scene—but I’d have felt better about it if everything didn’t blur together.
One song that does stick out to me is “Silent City”. Listening to it, I start to see a movie playing in my head where there’s a ballet dancer walking down alleys in a bad part of town, while big black birds circle overhead. It’s a soundtrack to someone’s nightmare. Maybe mine. I’m not sure yet. Either way, whoever was in charge of the music in Black Swan would have done well to invest in Watson.
The song “Shame” stands out to me because it goes on for nearly eight minutes, further justifying my point about the concept album. It’s too long. It could be that I’m just a product of a generation with no attention span, but I can handle a really good five- or six-minute song. Seven is pushing it. In eight minutes I could go to the store, buy milk, and make it home again.
Watson would never even know I’d been gone.