Westberg, the Gen X duo of Ariel Westberg and Scott Bruzenak (aka Noisecastle III), wanted to get back to simple. That didn’t mean their usual experimentation was off the table: they collected melodic fragments and blended some of their hallmark eclectic harmonic detours that still ended up in several songs on the resultant album, Boomer Studies, due out Sept 18. The first single off the album, coincidentally titled “Simple” is a generous reflection on aging gracefully, by a musical collaboration still a long way from being done creating surprises for their listeners.
Focused on pure, classic American songwriting, Westberg and RIAA-certified multi-platinum pop/electronic producer Bruzenak decidedly went “negative but nice this time around.” The former latchkey kids know how to raid their mental closets for musical shoebox memories. The conspicuous result on this album is the song, “Simple,” which features the multi ranging Westberg’s intentionally “bone dry” vocals strolling through a canopy of big guitar exclamation points that will be familiar to Tom Petty fans. Though Westberg often surprises by taking on characters and tones in her songs as the music shifts gears, here she summons the easy strains emanating through the suburbs from a car radio in the 90’s to channel innocence and plain love of our time. Recognizing the duo’s inclination to complicate and layer, Westberg chose a quieter, lyrical intimacy to relate: In my younger days / I had a lot of things to say / And I’d do it all the hard way / Didn’t care if it was complicated/ Didn’t care if I was compensated.