New Orleans' preeminent pop songwriters Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer, the duo behind Generationals, release their fourth album, Alix, Sept. 16. It's their second release for Polyvinyl Records, and first under the helm of producer and songwriter Richard Swift, who has produced albums for simpatico pop outfits The Shins and Foxygen, among others.
Joyner and Widmer anticipated Swift starting from scratch and filtering Generationals' computer-powered pop through his decidedly traditionalist technique and vintage vibe. "We didn't know how radically [the songs would] be changed when we brought them to Swift," Joyner says. "We thought of them as demos."
"Instead, he was like, 'No, I've been listening to these songs and I think they should be as they are,'" Widmer says. "We were like, 'OK, I guess we'll do that? That's cool, this guy we love and has great taste thinks what we did is good enough that it's almost done. Is he being lazy?' We'd definitely go home at the end of the sessions, thinking, 'Is he trying to get out of doing a more involved session?' We definitely pressed him on that, that this was the right production for this record, and we felt convinced."
The album's first singles, album opener "Black Lemon" and "Gold Silver Diamond," pulse with bubbling synths and sticky-sweet chimes bouncing along drum machines, all given a warm glow under Swift's direction. The album also branches '80s funk and falsetto dance-pop, Prince-like hooks and the kind of confident power pop Joyner and Widmer have been waiting to achieve, tinkering in their New Orleans homes and sharing bits and pieces.
"Writing mode, recording mode, rehearsing mode, and tour mode, then it kind of starts over again," Joyner says. "Each time we get back from that tour, when it's time for another record, it's the most exciting time for me. The anxiety of, 'Holy shit, do we have another record in us?' It's scary, you're starting from scratch each time, but it's also our moment to repaint the picture with where we are and the kinds of songs we want to make."