I try to avoid rash categorical statements, but I feel pretty safe claiming that Thomas McNeely is the only musician in the Triangle who funks it up with Boulevards, rocks with Reese McHenry, plays post-punk with Jenny Besetzt, and namechecks alt-rock dinos Better Than Ezra in his Bandcamp bio.
It’s that exuberant versatility, more than any one of those genres, that powers “Total Restoration of the Heart,” which we’re premiering today. It’s the first single from McNeely’s new EP of the same name, due out August 14. McNeely says that all proceeds from the single and the album preorder will go to social-justice organizations like Emancipate NC and the Black Trans Protesters Emergency Fund.
There’s more to the title than a Bonnie Tyler reference. McNeely recorded his synthy indie-pop EP by himself in quarantine, but according to a bio, the songs had been simmering for two years, laying “a breadcrumb trail between a rocky breakup and a redeeming relationship.” “Total Restoration of the Heart” definitely catches the sweet end of that cycle, bursting with dewy optimism and a sense of clear-aired renewal.
McNeely renders his tangled guitars, shining keys, multi-tracked vocals, and perky rhythm section in vivid miniature, suggesting a happy, teeming domestic life. The door is closed but the window is open, with sun streaking through it, and the garden is growing. Contra COVID claustrophobia, it’s an almost physical relief to feel that openness with him. Put it on a playlist between The Promise Ring and The Cure and happy-cry the day away:
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