Travis Bretzer is a superb addition to the recent jangle-pop revival, which consists of artists like Mac DeMarco recalling the nonchalant melodic hooks and jangly guitars of Felt, Orange Juice, and The Smithereens. Those groups were diverse in approach, with varying infusions of post-punk and experimentation; it’s a similar sport comparing Bretzer to Mac DeMarco or even Cass McCombs. There are various spectrums within this recent jangle-pop phenomenon, from McCombs’ emphasis on county and folk to DeMarco’s fleeting punk-tinged enthusiasm. What’s interesting about Bretzer’s music is its immediate engagement; his crisp guitar tones sound polished and ethereal despite not being adorned in frequent reverb. There’s a trendy acoustic phasing effect in “Hurts So Bad”, which takes an interesting yet successful approach with Bretzer’s vocals resembling the nasally assertion of ’90s alt-rock heroes like Slint. There’s a bunch of fun-loving ’80s and ’90s influences present in Bretzer’s songs, but his actual compositions are quite original.
The raw impact of Bretzer’s songwriting seems most prevalent on “Lady Red”, a wonderfully playful effort with an irresistibly twangy guitar lead. The Canadian singer-songwriter almost recalls Richard Hawley here, his intoxicating vocals merging flawlessly with the guitar layers and occasional wisps of synth. The lead keeps sticking in my head, and it won’t get out. “Giving Up” is another striking track, the lively twang this time reminding of Hefner’s “urban folk” blend. Excuse the high number of comparisons, but Bretzer has a knack for reminding of great records from the ’80s and ’90s, particularly with origins in jangle-pop and folk infusions. Keep an eye on this one.