Behind the kudzu-covered branches of a gothic exterior, Feast of Smoke offers mesmeric, sometimes darkly comic glimpses into the absurd splendor of life together. From the whispered vocals of opener “Goodbye,” a playful plea for togetherness, to the incantatory sighs of songs like “Moan” and “Haunted,” Paul and Amber’s voices blend and contrast in equal measure. It is a fitting sound for a married couple with a dynamic, propulsive approach to songwriting. Through this “fire and water type of union,” as Paul describes it, the pair produce songs that feel studied yet spontaneous. Sometimes the results are eerie and enigmatic, like the late-night house band at backwoods roadhouse. The momentous “Like Father, Like Son” rumbles with subterranean percussion as Paul sings, “There is a place in my heart that I just can’t take you.” Palm-muted chords shadow the pair’s vocals on “Drift.” Amber’s emotive voice and a delta riff make up the spare sounds of “Lonely.” At other times, they turn a dusty spotlight on ordinary moments. “Pleasure” and closer “Dummy Check” have the feel of old school duets. They reveal a songwriting team defined by impulse and freedom as well as a brooding sense of mystery.
Feast of Smoke was produced by Paul and Amber and features a range of old friends and collaborators, including Neil Hagerty of Royal Trux on guitar, Larry and Patty Schemel, Jeremy Gagon and Brian Girgus of Lower Case on drums, and some lyrics from George Wethington of Speed to Roam and Amish Heaters. Put it on, roll the windows down, and let the séance begin.