This past May marked the first solo release from Mark Alan Lofgren, Co-founder of Chicago psychedelic group The Luck of Eden Hall. Having broke onto the scene in the early ’90s, Mark and the band are no strangers when it comes to composing ethereal, psychedelic pop tunes.
Fast forward a bit to the release of The Past Perfect. Mark’s wonderfully airy, brit-pop styled vocals are as gorgeous as ever but are now spinning tales that are a bit more introspective and personal than before. The opening track “Roosevelt” sounds equal parts ’60s and ’90s influenced; Like The Beatles meets Elliott Smith.
Skipping ahead a bit, “Citadel” is a little more upbeat than the first two tracks and has multiple layers of really gorgeous instrumentation. A fuzzed out guitar sits low in the mix while lush piano and string melodies cascade over a driving drum beat. On top of that, it’s a damn catchy tune.
This breezy psych-folk sound carries over to the next track “Flying Blind”. The song “Nearsighted Andy” however, starts to bring back that rock vibe and sounds a bit reminiscent of ’90s shoegaze acts like Slowdive or Ride.
As you continue into the middle of the album, the mood becomes a bit more subdued with the inclusion of “One London Ontario Night”, a primarily acoustic number that beautifully recalls a bittersweet love story.
The second half of the album has a slough of potential indie rock hits. “A Pocket Full of Bliss” is a stand out for me; It’s easily the hardest hitting song on the album. Mark’s vocal style works is a nice juxtaposition to the quick drum fills and wall of overdriven guitars that dominate the entire 2 minute track.
Well into the B-side now, “Put It Together” is another personal tale of lost love that is accented by violins and psychedelic guitar overdubs.
“Never Coming Back” is perhaps the track that sums up the album as a whole. It’s catchy, a bit melancholy, and beautifully arranged. It’s also a nice middle ground between the slower, more contemplative songs on the album and the rockers.
The album as a whole feels like a journey through Mark’s past (as the album title might suggest) but the stories are far from perfect. These 12 songs tell an obviously abridged version of the Mark Alan Lofgren life story, but they bring with them an honesty and openness that is often lost in pop music today. Highly recommended listening for fans of psych, folk, pop, and all things ’90s.
You can stream the rest of the album via Mark’s bandcamp page, and purchase a limited edition CD copy for only $15. Only 100 of these exist so don’t hesitate to pickup a physical copy of this brilliant album!