James Barrett has released a handful of EPs under his own name, each chronicling a different chapter of growing up and gaining clarity in his native Scranton.
The Price of Comfort soft reboots his whole approach—while the ringing clarity of his voice is the constant, the elements around him have gained teeth and tenacity. As his first LP, Comfort also debuts Barrett’s full-band sound, a choice that mirrors the record’s tumultuous two-year development. Many of these songs, like the sweeping closer “Everything Will Be Beautiful in the End” or the thorny midpoint “On Comfort,” catalog a mourning period. (Others, like the six-minute dirge “The World Back Then” began forming when James was seventeen.) Yet, The Price of Comfort is warmer and more welcome than its darkness suggests, with each track exploding and unfolding to expose some needed light. It’s in the uplifting delivery and the varied genre play of James Barrett’s plussed-up alt-rock that give The Price of Comfort a priceless sense of hope. Seamless transitions serve as quiet reminders of the irrelevance of time when loss takes center stage (including the contemplation afforded with an interlude like “Subsides”), but each track is focused on moving past the impossible weight of grieving. Barrett’s coping mechanisms weave between acid-tongue pop punk (“Do It Better”) and bouncy acoustic rock that hearkens back to his roots (“A Place Devoted”), each mutation more measured than the last. -James Cassar