David Vassalotti, the Florida songwriter who plays guitar in Tampa dream-punk band Merchandise, makes shambolic rock songs by himself too. Broken Rope, his second solo full-length, is out February 12th via Wharf Cat, the small label behind some of right-now's more interesting weirdo-rock sounds.
On the record's title track, premiering below, Vassalotti sings visceral poetry—All those fierce friends in beautiful overcoats, covering up careless skin—over steadily paced layers of guitar. At times it feels a little sunny, even when Vassalotti's trembling vocals come across as defeated. What's left to hold onto, other than a handful of broken rope? he sings near the end, before unloading an off-kilter solo and some disorienting feedback. "Broken Rope" exists in a fuzzy middle-ground between hopeless and triumphant, an endlessly relatable space that Vassalotti sounds very comfortable inhabiting.
"I got the title from a doc about Pierre Henry in which he talks of the sound of a broken rope," Vassalotti told The FADER over email. "A rope is time (continuity), restraint (leash), gestation (umbilical cord), death (noose). It can be used to unite as well as destroy. A broken rope is a divorce from time, a liberation, a birth. It’s the closest I can get to optimism in a time like this."