Formed in Brooklyn, the tale of Absent City actually started on the opposite coast, when Bay Area-native Henry Freedland decided to swap West for East back in 2004. A decade on Henry formed the dream-pop band, Tiger Dare, with early acclaim giving way to a break-up that left Henry feeling, “overworked at an impossible job, romantically wrecked, and isolated by anxious inaction”. Returning to music like an old friend, Henry began to try and make sense of it all, and the result is Absent City. Beginning life in Henry’s tiny apartment, Absent City expanded to a trio, courtesy of drummer Liz Maynes-Aminzade and bassist Sam Bloch, and in 2018 began work on the tracks that formed their debut album, Continue Normal Living. Perhaps fittingly, the story of Absent City actually took another twist, when during the making of the record, Henry’s life stumbled upon love, marriage and ultimately with a child on the way, took him back to Oakland. There he found a label, Homing Instincts Records, waiting and willing to release the album and next week it will see the light of day. Ahead of that, we’re premiering the latest track from the record, Ticker Tape Parade.
While a Ticker Tape Parade might normally be a cause for celebration, Absent Cities version is a distinctly wistful affair. The whole thing is bonded together by the rhythm section, as the bright splashy drums and tight-knit bass-lines produce a core around which meandering, dreamy guitars, keyboards and Henry’s easy vocal are given room to express and soar.
Lyrically, the track is rooted in the everyday grind, Henry torn between celebrating the successes and fleeing all together. At the songs opening he finds positivity in small victories, noting, “if I can leave this house today, throw me a ticker tape parade”, although as the song progresses the weight of it all seems to grind down his resolve, “they’re closing every door while you get this wrong and I want to go home, to the only shit I know”. Absent City’s music seems to exist as a journey, a place where hope ebbs and flows, looking longingly for a future that might never exist, looking rosily at a past that perhaps wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Wherever this journey takes them next Absent City’s route to make it here has already been a fascinating one.