Weaving together influences like ANOHNI, Radiohead, MGMT and Mitski, Thurlowood’s Discontinue Normal Program may be the first synth pop record, or at least the catchiest, about the history of nuclear Armageddon. The album, which aims to serve as a warning about leaving existential threats unchecked and passing them to our children, is the first solo effort by Bridges and Powerlines singer and keyboardist Andrew Thurlow Wood. That band had a hugely successful run, with albums produced by Chris Zane (Passion Pit, The Walkmen) and Kieran Kelly (Sufjan Stevens); collaborations with members of The Rapture, Antony and the Johnsons, Bon Iver, and The Cult along with indie troubadour Will Stratton; and shows supporting artists including Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, Women, Oxford Collapse, Twin Sister, Chris Carrabba, Adam Duritz, and many others. The band went on hiatus after releasing its fifth album National Fantasy in 2016, at which point Thurlowood began to explore the idea of a solo record. Despite its “doomsday” subject matter, the record is not speculative but rooted in historic events.
A book by Garrett M. Graff, Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan To Save Itself—While the Rest of Us Die, captured Thurlowood’s attention and sent him down the rabbit hole that would become the album’s theme. Across ten songs, the Kelly-produced Discontinue Normal Program explores the US’s secret plans for continuity of government, to Nixonian posturing of the president as a “madman,” bunker survivalists, Hiroshima survivors, as well as the 1983 false nuclear alarm in the Soviet Union and 2018 false alarm in Hawaii. With the doomsday clock ticking to 100 seconds to midnight this January – the closest it’s ever been to the fateful hour – the issues and stories on the album feel more urgent and relevant than ever.
“It coincides perfectly with the current times, he actually didn’t do that on purpose. His dark and hopeless apocalyptic piano-centric indie tunes have been predicting the end since they were written.” –Break Thru Radio
“The work of a musician who pulls no punches… heavy, yet incredibly catchy.” -Mxdwn
“I can go into my office and pick up the telephone, and in 25 minutes 70 million people will be dead.” -Richard Milhous Nixon
RIYL: ANOHNI, Radiohead, Postal Service, MGMT, Mitski
Recommended Tracks: Track 1, “Survivalist,” Track 2, “Shells,” Track 3, “Reverie,” Track 8, “Hawaiian Sunshine”