Saturn Expedition

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

Saturn Expedition

Look Back Fair Pilgrim (Cronus) With a far-out name like Saturn Expedition, you'd expect cosmic freak-outs, soundtracky abstraction, or fuzzy, lunar blasts of distortion. Look Back Fair Pilgrim starts out according to plan, with 45 seconds of warm, analog drone. Then, before you can say "red herring," said plan gets thrown into the paper shredder. Instead of the proposed journey through space, Portland, Ore., transplant Patrick Shea, who cut his teeth there under the tutelage of local institution Pete Krebs, pulls out nine tracks of spare, narcoleptic pop. From open to close, Look Back Fair Pilgrim is an exercise in airy dream-folk, anchored by Shea's bright vocal tenor. The occasional keyboard symphony recalls a more organic Her Space Holiday, but for the most part, it's Shea and his clean guitar, wearing his own monogrammed My Morning Jacket, minus that group's crooning accessibility. What Saturn Expedition does bring to the table is a sweet, delicate, healing brand of sorrow. Standout "Serenade" belongs on a rainy, sick-day mix tape alongside Nick Drake, Codeine, Red House Painters, and other purveyors of comforting sadcore. This album can drive one into a glassy-eyed stupor by CD's end, but there remains enough variety in the degrees of reverb, tempos, and occasional instrumental flourishes to hold your attention, if what you're looking for is a little company for your misery. Shea wrote the songs on Look Back Fair Pilgrim while recovering from a bout with depression, so it wouldn't be a stretch to call this album therapeutic.

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