I Have to Feed Larry's Hawk, however, all is forgiven." /> L.A. Record

TIM PRESLEY’S WHITE FENCE: I HAVE TO FEED LARRY’S HAWK

February 1st, 2019 | Album reviews

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TIM PRESLEY’S WHITE FENCE
I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk
Drag City

Alas, our beloved experimental-psychedelic-bedroom-punk conjurer Tim Presley (interviewed here) has decamped to San Francisco, the city from whence he came. If the music he makes up north continues to reach the creative heights of his new offering I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk, however, all is forgiven. Presley’s intoxicating mix of vulnerability and aloofness advance and retreat across his sonic landscape like San Francisco’s famous fogs, drawing you deeper and deeper into the magic and obscuring your way back home. The chains of addiction (to prescription painkillers, perhaps, given the album cover and Walgreens references?) and associated Sisyphean tasks (forever feeding Larry’s hawk) haunt these songs. The dark pull of the hawk and his appetites call to mind “The Beast,” a stand-in for heroin in the old Only Ones song. But there’s healing at work here, too. You can feel “Harm Reduction (Morning)” working—it fizzes and tingles in your brain and may cause (pleasant) drowsiness. And there’s love, sweet love. But is it the right kind? With his usual charming obliqueness, Presley calls this a “cycle of songs about losing the thing that’s killing you that you love in order to gain the thing that makes you love what you love.” Is “Lorelei” a loved one, or a siren luring him towards his demise? “Let us make it out of here alive, Lorelei,” he pleads softly. Either way, it’s one of the prettiest songs he’s written. “I Love You” opens with a Johnny Thunders-worthy guitar riff, but piano and synthesizers lend a theatrical, softer 70s flare to many of these songs. “I Can Dream You” feels like it could be a poignant moment from a groovy rock opera about doomed love, bad decisions and money laundering. (Tim, will you write us a rock opera?) The Pit gallery describes Presley’s current solo exhibition of expressionistic ink on paper drawings as “a place for introspection.” His music nurtures that same kind of inner journey, simultaneously enchanting and unsettling its listener. The wise Willy Wonka once sang, “There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination / Living there, you’ll be free, if you truly wish to be.” Presley may sing, “I’m not as free as I’d like to be,” but his imagination soars here to the heights of Larry’s hawk itself, and he doesn’t need the aid of Fizzy Lifting Drinks (or their more illicit equivalents) to get there. Total freedom can’t be far behind for Presley, if he truly wishes it to be. And if this is what he sounds like when he’s not free, I can’t wait to hear what he sounds like when he is.

—Donna Kern

TIM PRESLEY’S WHITE FENCE’S I HAVE TO FEED LARRY’S HAWK IS OUT NOW ON DRAG CITY.