Good Service Always Starts With A “Please”

Shimmering guitar chords wash over us in “Pocket Calendars.” Decadent vocal noise does something similar in “Ira, Lila.” “Summer Muses” is a bit more conventional in its rollicking rhythm, but alongside “MaPaw,” it’s one of the only times that a word like conventional applies to Please, the debut album from one Good Service, a Portland, ME-based experimentalist who is becoming quite the indie darling this summer. For those curious as to why this young songwriter’s rise to prominence among the alternative press has been as meteoric as it has needn’t look much further than Please’s incredibly abstract tracklist to understand what all of the fuss has been about. Truth be told, this is one of the more ambitious LPs that I’ve heard all season, debut or otherwise.

Though it’s only a half-hour long, Good Service’s new record has a very anthological feel, like a compilation album of basement tapes and B-sides of the most erudite variety. “The End,” which brings everything to a close after a lightning storm of strange melodies in the timid “94” and “Pocket Calendars,” sounds like the backing track to the credit sequence of a surreal independent film, while the Pink Floydian “Sys’ro” has the look and feel of a progressive rock interlude, sans the bombast and camp that usually come standard with any release in that genre. This isn’t really an LP that you can cherry-pick from; to properly appreciate Please, you need to sit down and strap yourself in for the full-on cinematic experience that it undeniably is.

“Ira, Lila,” “Washington Avenue” and “And a Foot” are so experimental that they almost seem a little scattered at first glance, but upon closer inspection, they too bear the immensely detailed structure that is found in all of the material on this record. I can understand what Good Services was going for in juxtaposing the consistent with the unapologetically unpredictable; where many of his rivals in and out of the Northeast have been throwing their music into one camp or the other, he wants to take elements of both and fuse them into an intoxicating cocktail of near-ambient muscularity that even the novice experimental music buff would be attracted to on the spot. He’s got some lofty dreams with this project, and they’re on full display in Please.

If these tracks are but only a taste of what’s to come next for Good Service, then you can definitely count me in for more. There’s a lot of unneeded grandiosity in this LP, but that said, it’s one of the most cohesive and robustly faceted records that I’ve reviewed lately nonetheless. This guy has got all the makings of being a real powerhouse in the American underground right now, and considering the lack of interesting talent in this particular subset of alternative music at the moment, the pathway is clear for him to make a play for the throne if he sees fit. The 2010s have been a transformative time for the very concept of melodicism as we know it, and artists like Good Service are the reason why.

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