Personal Space is a conundrum: indie without a scene, prog disdaining complexity, a dad band without dads. Since they released their debut EP, The Early Universe Was Entirely Opaque, in 2014, the band has been a work in progress, perennially under review. For their official debut, Sam Rosenthal and Henry Koehler joined forces with Alex Silva and Jesse Chevan, recently of Brooklyn smoothcore band Face of Man, to release 2016’s Ecstatic Burbs on Tiny Engines. Ecstatic Burbs showcased the band’s “eccentro-pop” sound and range of influences, from experimental post-punk like the Dismemberment Plan to the baroque pop of The Zombies, and earned the band praise from the Village Voice, Stereogum, and Brooklyn Vegan.
A Lifetime of Leisure, the band’s second LP release, and its first for Good Eye, showcases the members’ development, musically and personally, since Ecstatic Burbs was released. Where Ecstatic Burbs dealt with reconciling the saccharine surreality of a suburban upbringing with the stark realities of life after college, A Lifetime of Leisure finds Personal Space negotiating more thematically complex terrain. The world has gotten a lot darker in the intervening years, and the grooves have followed suit. Like Steely Dan with less glitz, or a mordant Pinback, the 10 tracks on ALOL find the band fretting over downward mobility, preoccupied with ethically sourcing their groceries, and hoping, against hope, that humanity can still find its way to a very chill, socialist utopia.
@jacobin I do not see you