Tim Perry, frontman and lyricist for the Portland septet Ages and Ages, wrote every note of Divisionary, the band’s second album, in his head during a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat. You would never guess this from the all-together-now spirit of the results, though; the group comes across like a choral-folk pep squad, overflowing with co-ed harmonies, acoustic guitars, handclapping and hollering.
Despite its solitary genesis, Divisionary skillfully folds in the strengths of everyone in the band. The vocal and rhythmic assists from keyboardist Becca Shultz, and percussionists Annie Bethancourt and Sarah Riddle give Divisionary its strong flavor — whether it’s Mates Of State/New Pornographers-style indie-pop (“Light Goes Out”), rugged power-pop (the classic rock-influenced “The Weight Below”), swooning orchestral music (the kaleidoscopic psych rocker “Over It”) or stylistic pastiches (the ’60s folk-rock-meets-Broadway standout “Ante Up”).
The lyrics, meanwhile, extol the virtues of taking the path less traveled, even if that means breaking away from the pack. “And I have no remorse/ For the way that I am anymore,” the band sings in forceful near-unison on the individuality-celebrating “Over It,” while “Calamity Is Overrated” praises the merits of starting over: “Cuz everything that came before this serves no purpose, let’s get one thing straight: Our past is in the ashes, are we clear?” Ultimately, this optimism is never overbearing, perhaps because Perry’s meditation retreat informs the record’s approach. Divisionary finds enlightenment not just by seeking out happiness, but through achieving self-transformation and emotional balance through careful introspection.