Somewhere between rugged individualism and tender moments, Shawn Bortel and Aaron Rosell play. The Minneapolis duo’s latest album Maybe Next Time journeys through the inner turmoil and outer elation of deeply personal moments.
Compared to their 2016 album, Awkward Conversations, First Dates’ Maybe Next Time probes a more nuanced subject matter.
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Standout track “Love. Part II” takes a cinematic ambience through suspenseful anxiety to resolute acceptance—an encapsulated progression of life’s ups and down driven forward with the rapid heartbeat of plucked note.
Like the rest of the album, the song’s soft edges blur intimate moments—an invitation to empathize and map each story onto our own. The anxiety, grief, and relief transmit a personal, yet wholly universal narrative with each drumbeat.
“The song title ‘Love. Part II’ was chosen by Shawn,” says Rosell. “I really consider this ‘his’ track.”
He adds: “Shawn was going through some pretty intense times while we were recording it. When the drum-tracking session came around, he walked into the studio with a pair of timpani mallets, told me he had figured out his drum part, sat down, and just ripped it in one take.”
Each emotive beat on the song represents Bortel’s pulse at its purest shape.
While “Love. Part II” dances between contemplation and action, “Would’ve Been Good to Know” locks the listener in the push and pull of knowledge unknown. With the opening reversed arpeggiation introducing the first sonic layer, a building crescendo crashes into a simple, stark melody asking a question over and over without answer. As the second half fills out the soundscape, resolving the opening’s vagaries, you’re left with a hopeful, yet melancholic acceptance.
The subtlety layered in each piece offers a tentative conversation with the listeners. It’s both how we got here and where we’re going. Take the proffered hand and walk together.
Stream the whole LP below.
Ben is an advertising Madman who spends his days with words and music. When he’s not writing for his supper, he’s eating it at some of NYC’s most interesting restaurants.