Seven hours from now, Spencer Radcliffe will perform in front of a bronze Jesus pinned to a five-foot crucifix beneath a flower-shaped stained glass window at Brooklyn’s Park Church Co-Op. In the middle of his set, he will perform “Trust,” a stark and disconcerting song from his 2017 LP Enjoy The Great Outdoors, and he’ll let his head drop to the left while gently pulling the neck of his acoustic guitar down, holding it parallel to the altar floor. For a split-second, with his right angles intact, he will look like he’s mirroring the Christ at his back. Then he’ll pull his head up. “Because the truth is never easy / Always painful as fuck, fuck, fuck,” he’ll sing, lingering on that third one, contorting his mouth around it before fading into a whisper as the song dies out.
Right now, though, it’s the middle of the afternoon and he’s sitting at a picnic table beneath a collonaded pavilion in Monsignor McGolrick Park across the street. It’s cold and overcast and a group of pigeons are fighting amongst themselves to get into a hole in the wooden ceiling above him. “Most things seem pretty strange to me,” he says after one of many long pauses. “I can’t think of many things that don’t seem strange.”
Radcliffe’s new album, Hot Spring, out May 17 on Run For Cover, is a dreamlike tragicomedy, its enigmatic and idyllic snapshots of natural phenomena undercut by shocks of impending doom and wry jokes. “Spring is done, summer’s begun,” he sings over the uplifting country of the bleakly titled “Bloodletting” before upending himself: “Let’s everyone collapse under the heat of the sun.” On the prettily oddball “Floss For the Future,” after talking up his dental hygiene, he sings: “I was laugh, laugh, laughing / Laughing right at the void / I knew I had no choice, some things just can’t be destroyed.” And then he gets back to flossing.
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