Though it’s somewhat inevitable that the headlines accompanying Fragmented World, the debut album from Split Single, will describe it as “another Britt Daniel side-project,” the Spoon/Divine Fits frontman is actually happy to be playing the role of backing man for once. Going so far as to describe his contributions as that of a session musician, Daniel’s playing bass here — apparently his favorite instrument — for Jason Narducy, himself a bit of a legacy act in the indie- and alt-rock communities.
With roots in Chicago’s ’80s punk scene and time served leading ’90s outfit Verbow, Narducy spent much of the last 10 years himself fulfilling bass duties in Bob Mould’s band and in Superchunk. Split Single is really his project, a casual outgrowth of his return to songwriting — basically, on a whim — after almost a decade-long break; Fragmented World, out April 1 via Inside Outside Records, is the first major result of that decision, an album recorded quickly and expertly with help from Daniel as well as drummer Jon Wurster, whose equally impressive resume includes time with Mould and Superchunk as well, plus Mountain Goats.
Fittingly for a musician with a deep background as a sideman, Narducy’s latest material exhibits strands of all sorts crashing together: ’80s college rock, ’90s indie, and various brands of psychedelia mingle freely within the album’s efficient 32 minutes of power-pop. Despite a sunshine-y veneer, much of Fragmented World actually comes from a place of darkness, many of its lyrics inspired by Narducy losing both a close friend and a loved one in the years preceding its recording. If you listen closely, you can hear a resulting meditativeness in some of the record’s more yearning melodies, but Split Single’s general ebullience keeps it balanced. It reacts to sadness with affirmation.
Stream Fragmented World in full below.