Comprised of Menomena and Lacktherof‘s Danny Seim, The National‘s Bryan Devendorf and David Nelson, who has had stints in the touring bands for David Byrne and St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens, the members of Pfarmers can trace the project’s origins to when The National and Menomena toured together back in the early 2000s — and as a result of frequently running into each other Seim and Devendorft quickly became friends. And while Seim and Devendoft were playing with their respective primary projects at a festival, Devendorf played Seim a series of severely damaged synth-based drumbeats he had worked on with Nelson, who at the time was playing as part of the horn line in David Byrne’s live band. Seim was so intrigued that he joined into the project, which released their debut effort Gunnera last year; in fact, if you had been frequenting this site at some point last year, you may recall that I wrote about the album’s first single “The Ol’River Gang,” a moody, atmospheric track consisting of horns, boom-bap like beats and ethereal vocals that felt like an undulating fever dream.
Pfarmers’ sophomore effort Our Purim was written as Seim relocated from his hometown of Portland, OR to Louisville, KY. Initially wanting to make the album’s material conceptually about Oregon, where he had spent the majority of his life, he chose to focus on Rajneeshpuram community of Wasco County, OR he had learned about as a child. As an adult, he recognized the tragic nature of their story and as a result of contemporary events, began to find himself relating to members of the religious community in a different fashion than he had imagined. And much of the material began to be written from the perspective of a Rajneeshee leaving the compound — for good. Interestingly, it wasn’t until he had finished the album that he also realized that the album also managed to cover what he subconsciously felt was his own exodus from the only home he had known up until recently.
“Red Vermin,” the album’s latest single pairs gently undulating synths, industrial electronic-like drums, twinkling keys and plaintive yet ethereal vocals that describes the sensation of being ridiculed for one’s beliefs and outcasted with a profound sense of empathy — so much so that you can feel the sting of the insults hurled at the song’s narrator while possessing a cinematic quality.