Told Slant, “Point the Flashlight and Walk”

Told Slant
Point the Flashlight and Walk
DOUBLE DOUBLE WHAMMY
8/10

On Point the Flashlight and Walk, their third full-length as Told Slant, Felix Walworth is willing to wade into darkness. An earnestness sparks with intensity and impulsiveness throughout the record like a cigarette lighting another. Flashlight follows their curiosity through heavy waves of devotion and tumultuous relationships. Across its charming, lyrically bold twelve tracks, Walworth isn’t discouraged as they shine a light into a void, even if that means confronting personal demons. Eager acoustic guitar strums and twinkling piano plucks illuminate Walworth’s unflinching pursuit to feel. 

With “Bullfrog Choirs,” they emphasize a required willingness for the unknown. “You have to want to go,” they sing brightly in the opening verse. Their natural environment becomes a vivid orchestra of “bullfrog choirs” and “cicada drones” while they contemplate endless solitude. Although they repeat, “I am always alone,” they aren’t necessarily lonely. They explained that the refrain “is an encouragement to leap into unknownness, to be devoted to myself for a change.” With a thumping bass drum and airy keyboard sighs, Told Slant captures the excitement and open-ended possibility that comes with being by yourself.  

This new onset of openness doesn’t come out of nowhere. Fragments of past self-destruction and apathy are evidence that Flashlight is a documentation of growth. The lust for feelings of any kind seems to stem from ambivalence—there’s a sense of urgency, even if that means self-destruction. “Used to walk to the water and say / It doesn’t matter if you take me away,” they sing on opener “Meet You in the City.” Later, on “Moon and Sea,” their gravitational pull is fragile: “Earth upon its axis aims to spin me off one day.” Their vocals shrink and expand from robust and shadowy on “No Backpack” to having an anxious quiver on “Fog on the Glass.” As they walk an uncertain path, their voice splinters from jutting twigs and tears on sharp rocks. 

Although the limitlessness of the uncharted is exciting for Told Slant, it’s not always easy, or even beneficial. “I was hiding from me by putting you in the way,” goes “Flashlight On”—“Caring for you / So I don’t have to care for myself,” they sing over wholesome banjo melodies. But it’s better to try than “to look back on your life with the revelation that you were hardly living.” On “Anchor,” they sing, What’s scary isn’t darkness / It’s the moment you switch on the light.”

Written and recorded in their bedroom, Point the Flashlight and Walk documents some of the most massive and complex sounds Told Slant has ever dreamed up. These songs expand and bolster each other as they detail devotion and all-consuming love. The delicately plucked melody of “Family Still” simmers into the background of the cavernous “No Backpack.” The two tracks are meant to be listened to in succession, highlighting the attachment to others out of guilted obligation, genuine affection, and the fear of both. Connection and unconditional love leave one vulnerable for heartbreak, but they also make life phenomenal. They ultimately decide, “When there’s no one you’re afraid to lose, you lose.”

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