Philadelphia punks Restorations have long specialized in setting the humdrum realities of everyday life to doggedly anthemic music, like Bruce Springsteen fronting Fugazi. While it’s been four long years since 2014’s career breakthrough LP3, the band hasn’t lost its touch on the forthcoming LP5000, due September 28 from the excellent indie label Tiny Engines.
One of the album’s strongest tracks is “Nonbeliever,” which spotlights the band’s tried-and-true “pensive verse/rousing chorus” formula. (Check out the song’s debut below.) Singer-songwriter Jon Loudon drew inspiration from the post-election malaise of the past two years, a period of profound political and personal disaffection. The song’s protagonist has arrived at a moment in his life when the realities of adulthood can no longer be pushed off — he has a family to take care of, and the fate of the greater world to worry about.
While “Nonbeliever” isn’t strictly autobiographical — unlike the song’s narrator, Loudon does not have “a kid on the way” — it is a reflection of experiences lived by friends and confidants in the band’s inner circle, many of whom have “hit that mid-30s next step freakout, while there’s no good country to move to anymore,” he says. The tension in “Nonbeliever,” which veers from a thoughtful shuffle to an arena-ready stomp and back again, is how much these personal concerns ultimately matter at a time of political and cultural chaos.
“I feel like that’s such a drag of a song,” Loudon, 35, says with a knowing lilt. “It’s about the election and work stress and normal boring life stuff, I guess. Feeling overwhelmed, like you should maybe be worrying about other things that are slightly more important, like the state of the world. But you’re worrying about vet bills and job applications.”
For Restorations, LP5000 is a mark of survival after dealing with some of the common travails of being an indie band in the 2010s. On top of the usual “normal boring life stuff,” the band parted ways with its label, SideOneDummy, and suffered through a down period in the indie touring business in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.
Clocking in at just seven songs that come and go in less than a half-hour, Restorations have pared-down to the essentials — the wall of guitars, the jackhammer rhythm section, and Loudon’s emotionally direct storytelling. They sound leaner, and more determined, than ever.
I spoke with Loudon about their lengthy break between albums, getting older, and their excellent new batch of songs, which comes out later this fall.