Tonks’ debut album Windows Down & Dying is a bittersweet and poetic effort, sprinkled with just enough preciousness and sentimentality without being sloshed from sappiness. The 10-track record is the solo acoustic project of Ian Foley, who also serves as the bassist of Jersey indie rock band Dryjacket. Windows Down & Dying weaves Foley’s emo and pop-punk sensibilities with delicate folk strumming and an occasional string section. The majority of this album is dotted with melancholia-infused gems like “The Great Idaho Fire”, “Running Downhill”, “Pictures of Privilege”, and “Through the Daylight, the Moon Appears”. A few of the songs like “Water Damage” and “St. Charles Place” teeter on mawkish, which could provoke an occasional eye-roll from less sentimental listeners. However, this album is nothing if not cohesive, which each track representing a similar decision in overall tone and message.
The only truly perplexing choice on this album is the inclusion of a cover of “Paris” by the EDM-pop duo The Chainsmokers. Recording an acoustic cover of a pop or electronic song is a bit of a tired gag (see Travis’s “Baby One More Time” or Iron & Wine’s “Such Great Heights”), especially when there is nothing particularly charming or noteworthy about the original song. Covering “Paris” feels like a forced and unwarranted attempt at relevance, as if almost to say “How do you do, fellow kids”. Perhaps my pre-existing disdain for the Chainsmokers unfairly informs my opinion, but this track seems like a rather unnecessary addition an otherwise very strong and consistent album.
By the time you reach “Giles Corey”, you get the message. Foley once again croons about some luckless romance and a lover from times long ago. However, if you can forgive the redundancy, “Giles Corey” is a really beautiful track. Lines like “Who’s got my attention now/ I’m practically giving the stuff away” may not be particularly profound, but will likely resonate with many a listener. That seems to be Foley’s purgative with this project. Windows Down & Dying addresses uncomplicated and universal emotions, which actually works to its benefit. These songs are easy to hum along to and even easier to connect with. Foley proves his abilities as an introspective songwriter, wrapping nostalgia and melancholia into an evocative and effortlessly listenable album.
- Accessible and easy to listen to
- Beautiful instrumentation and production
- Simple yet evocative lyricism
- Has a Chainsmokers cover
- Thick sentimentality
- Somewhat repetitive and trite message