As the frontman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Kip Berman wrote songs about the thrills and ills of young adult life with the care and concern of a cool older sibling. The long-standing New York City indie pop group disbanded soon after releasing their final record in 2017, and Berman found himself at a creative crossroads. He wanted to keep making music, but the themes and sounds he was interested in had shifted; it felt time for a course correction. Enter Tethers, Berman’s first solo record as The Natvral out April 2nd, 2021 on Kanine Records. Tethers finds Berman coming to terms with the changes in his own life by observing those transformations in the people he’s known – a self-portrait in relief. In the time between making his last record with his former band, Berman’s life and location have shifted dramatically, as he welcomed a daughter, then a son, and moved from Brooklyn to Princeton. With his new identity as a parent came a crucial shift in how he approached music. Gone were the months in a cramped tour van and late nights rehearsing with his band in a windowless warehouse space. In its place were amorphous, suburban afternoons playing whimsical songs to two young children, while writing music for himself after their bedtime. But in this time away from the life of a touring artist, Berman discovered an unvarnished, broken folk rock sound-- a marked departure from his previous work. Recorded over 7 days with producer Andy Savours (My Bloody Valentine, Black Country New Road, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart), Tethers is as raw in sound as it is nuanced and empathetic in its lyricism. Without effect pedals, overdubs or even a metronome, the resulting album feels free and unpretentious, recalling the strident obliqueness of Bob Dylan and Neil Young’s sonic primitivism - but drawn from a set of vividly detailed experiences all Berman’s own. Tethers, in spirit and sound, is a taut rope, charged with the tension between wanting to go out and know the world, and the love that compels Berman to stay home and find peace with his young family.
On Tethers, Berman has re-emerged with a bracing debut, revelling in the freedom to go his own way, even if that way is home.
1. Why Don’t You Come Out 2. New Moon Anymore? 3. Sun 4. New Year’s Night 5. Tears of Gold 6. Sylvia, the Cup of Youth 7. Stay in the Country Blisters 8. Runaway Jane 9. Alone in London