PORTLAND VOWS “Living Posthumously” C48 (Third Kind Records)


The first thing you gotta worry about when you listen to Portland Vows’ new tape Living Posthumously is right there in the title – what does that mean?! Bob Plant, philosopher, thinker, all around smarter person than me, either doesn’t get that the present-tense “living” really can’t be modified by the adverb “posthumously,” because that would be the type of paradox that could knock the entire space-time continuum off its axis (if indeed it’s on an axis). Did I say paradox? I meant oxymoron. You can’t live after you’re dead, which is what “posthumously” means: post-living.
So maybe I am as smart as Bob Plant, but get this: I’m smarter, and here’s why. I was able to make it all the way through the Portland Vows mind puzzle and come out the other side, completely unscathed, not knocked around or plowed over by his mental gymnastics. Well, I was at least a little scathed as I made it through Living Posthumously – but in a good way! In fact, I actually sort of started to feel like Living Posthumously was coating my brain in some narcotic yet restorative way, filling in all the emotional cracks that I wasn’t even aware of with its delicate and insightful drone smears and guitar twinkles. Perhaps it’s the art that put these ideas in my head (and kudos to Tiny Little Hammers for another superb design!).
So maybe Living Posthumously is a statement of stasis, a balancing act, a dissertation on a modern problem of feeling stuck in life in such a way that experiencing it is like looking back from beyond the point of expiration and viewing the sleepwalking self. It’s both a condemnation of inaction and the revelation and acceptance that inaction is all there’s ever going to be. But that doesn’t mean those complex feelings can’t coexist within your mind sans a soundtrack. And Living Posthumously is a great one, filled with gorgeous miniature lullabies, star shimmers, and Nyquil-coated safe spaces. You’ll need those safe spaces to recharge at least some energy spent on those thousand-yard stares.