The Party is a series of character sketches, ostensibly set at a specific gathering. It’s not exactly a concept record or a John Hughes script for a Robert Altman film, but writing it was definitely a way for Shauf to get out of his own head. Fuzzed-out guitars collide with string sections and dreamy synths, all draped over delicate piano, acoustic guitars and rainy-day drums. Oh, and clarinet. Brevity is key: these vignettes are rooted in classic pop songwriting, with shades of the Shins, Belle and Sebastian and Grandaddy seeping into Shauf’s modern arrangements.

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