The Goodbye Party keeps the past in sight while moving ahead on “Unlucky Stars”
Lansdowne’s Michael Cantor crafts arresting pop music in his project The Goodbye Party, bridging sensitive melancholic introspection and a classic songwriting uplift. His latest single “Unlucky Stars” is bursting with decisive forward-momentum, as lyrics rooted in pain and disconnection are transformed by the song’s melody and energy, signaling an intent to overcome.
Cantor landed in the Philly music scene around 2012, the same time his indie rock band The Ambulars was on the upswing, and his friends in Radiator Hospital had also rooted themselves locally. Though he and RadHos frontperson Sam Cook-Parrot collabed on a beautiful record under the name The Afterglows, The Goodbye Party — who released the Silver Blues LP in 2014 and several EPs before that — became Cantor’s primary project, a space for more personal songwriting in the spirit of anyone from The Everly Brothers and Big Star to The New Pronographers.
We hear pieces of those influences in the loudest possible way on “Unlucky Stars,” The Goodbye Party’s first song in five years and a teaser of its second LP Beautiful Motors. The atmospheric electric guitar tones at the top of the song glide into a swift drumbeat, a crunching chord progression, and Cantor’s angelic vocal delivering beautiful melodies and layered harmonic counterpoints in the vein of The Beach Boys and Pernice Brothers. Lyrically, the song confronts the past through vivid metaphor, using the wisdom of time and experience to underscore the distance one travels in life.
We were two different films
On the same screen.
A miracle our eyes could ever meet.
Til golden hours were cold and strange
On the last time you tried to look my way
You were holding back.
In an email to The Key, Cantor tells us “Unlucky Stars” deals with memory and the impacts of loss. The “you” who is the object of this loss can be viewed as an estranged person, he says, but it is just as much a perspective on one’s former self. “I’d been reading Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas and at one point, an old sea captain has this dream of being underwater and all his old drowned sailors visit him,” Cantor says. “It felt like a good metaphor for how it feels to meditate on things and people that you miss while trying to escape the weight they carry.”
It’s telling that in addressing these weighty themes, Cantor keeps things buoyant; “I could’ve made a record of long, droning, sad songs, but I challenged myself to keep things more energetic,” he says. “People want to have fun when they see live music, back when there was live music.”
This energy carries across Beautiful Motors, which was recorded with a terrific cast of Philly musicians from Cantor’s community of friends: Kyle Gilbride from Swearin recorded the album, and contributions come from Cook-Parrot, Maryn Jones of Yowler and All Dogs, Joey Doubek of Pinkwash and Speedy Ortiz, Emi Knight of Strawberry Runners, and pedal steel player Zena Kay.
Beautiful Motors is out October 9th via Double Double Whammy; preorder the record here, and listen to “Unlucky Stars” below.