Artist: Lindsey Buckingham
Album: Gift of Screws
By Steve Morley
Fleetwood Mac would become one of the most celebrated names of the 1970s, but it was a floundering rock band in search of an identity in 1975, when the then-unknown musician Lindsey Buckingham was brought into the fold. one of the best-selling albums in pop history. Three decades and half a dozen solo albums later, he’s still balancing his instincts for glistening pop-rock with his mad-scientist producer side.
It’s no coincidence that Fleetwood Mac hit its commercial stride under Buckingham’s direction. His vision for blending Mac’s three primary songwriters and voices into a cohesive pop-rock powerhouse contributed significantly to the success of 1977’s Rumours,His latest album, Gift of Screws, is an exercise in swirling sonic textures that finds Buckingham manipulating the studio knobs as masterfully as he does his guitar. Time Precious Time represents the album’s most indulgent aspects, joining harp-like arpeggios with a vocal phrase that grows increasingly disorienting, as if the artist is falling down a stairway of his own cascading guitar notes. On tracks like these, Buckingham confirms the force of well-implemented sound, a feature that frequently takes precedence on the disc, often making his surreal lyrics of secondary importance to the overall effect. But the album’s immersing atmospheres, alternately watery and edgy, mirror the recurring themes of being submerged or alienated from one’s prevailing surroundings — a state that also resembles his post-Fleetwood Mac career experience.
The haunting but tuneful Did You Miss Me captures those moods in a relational setting, while Underground addresses Buckingham’s disconnect with, and distaste for, a music industry uninterested in artistic motivations. But the musician’s loftier and more left-of-center ambitions hardly nullify his prowess with pop landscapes. The ultra-dynamic Love Runs Deeper, which maintains that the broken and isolated among us may possess a greater emotional capacity, progresses from a restrained verse to a supercharged chorus that erupts like a tunneling man bursting through the earth’s crust.
While Buckingham’s characteristically dark and acidic sides haven’t disappeared, the album’s hints of emerging hope bloom fully into the promise of redemption on the comforting and anthemic Treason.
Fans of classic Fleetwood Mac are accommodated by The Right Place to Fade, a Mac knockoff that is both letter-perfect and ironic, as Buckingham references his past and seeks to finally separate himself from the suffocating effects of its legacy.
For all the album’s odd turns, Gift of Screwsshows that the tools from which Buckingham once fashioned multi-platinum success remain sharp and firmly in his grasp, even if the blueprints have changed.