Michael Orendy, aka Frankel, is a bit of a recluse. Since his first EP back in 2006, the multi-instrumentalist has been hand-crafting echoing, atmospheric, folk-inspired tunes from his lonesome L.A. apartment. Now in 2009, he returns with his second homemade full length release, Anonymity is The New Fame. The record continues on the same track that his music has been taking with a little more polish for the new songs. It’s a record based on the contrasting elements of self-loathing and questioning lyrics mixed with melancholy, and sometimes cheery, music. Negativity aside, the record comes out as another success for the L.A. sleeper hit-maker, proving that some things you just have to do yourself.
Like all records of this nature, these songs are never there to reach out and grab you. They take time and attention before they become favorites. What makes the record stick together is that each handcrafted track could stand alone, and yet together they blend beautifully. Orendy again shows us his penchant for the quieter side of alternative as he reverberates his way through the gentler side of pop.
The record opens with an ominous piano on the title track as he sings of his fear of losing the ones he loves. A sonic bridge fills in the rest of the song with a Belle and Sebastian finesse that appears throughout the record as on the strummed-out Faux Science. Other standouts like Ticket Machine and Weary Mind pull out hints of Simon and Garfunkel by way of Sufjan Stevens, as he layers his vocals for near perfect harmonies.
As aforementioned, the music plays in many courts. While some tracks may be quiet and folky, others branch into alt-rock territory, as with Nowhere and the sonic ballad Weather Balloon. The ambient and static-y guitars play wonderfully into the sound of the record, with Orendy’s vocals as the glue between the styles. They can be upbeat and sunny just as they can be dark and distant. The tracks bounce back and forth, not sticking to any pattern. As the record progresses, however, it does slow down, crawling to a finish with tracks like the life-questioning Keep You Inside.
Orendys hopes and dreams become clearer when he gets to When I Grow Up. While he may not be dreaming big, according to this all he wants is to be comfortable in his own shoes. And isnt that all anyone wants in the end? No matter what endeavors we may find ourselves in, dont we all have the same ultimate goal of personal fulfillment? The accordion of The Royal We takes us out as he reminisces on loves past. It is another plea for that personal return to truth and happier times that leads us out of the latest solo effort.
Orendy is looking for answers, just like the rest of us, with each song taking us along on his personal search for the meaning of life (its 42, by the way). His songs have always been an outlet for his queries, such as the wake-up call, Do you want to run through a field of no regrets?. This leads to a thoughtful record that quietly hits the alt-pop mark. But ask yourself, dont you want to run through that field too?
“Anonymity Is The New Fame”