A “liminal space” is an empty or disquieting location that serves as a transition between two other locations. Think of an unused skywalk, a hallway in an abandoned mall, or an airport terminal at 3 a.m. It’s a place in between places, a place neither here nor there, a place of waiting and anticipation. To enter a liminal space is to be put on hold.

Being put on hold is at the heart of Volume Two: Thank You For Your Patience, the wickedly wonderful second record from Milwaukee musician Harrison Colby and his Beat Index solo project. A self-described “album of on-hold music for automated phone systems,” Thank You For Your Patience doubles as a spot-on homage to ’70s funk and soft rock. It’s a thoroughly realized concept album—the musical equivalent of a liminal space and/or twirling a coiled phone cord between your fingers, pacing around a shag-carpeted living room, waiting to get through. It’s fun, funny, and easily one of the best Milwaukee albums of 2022.

Opening with an old-school ringtone and a wash of groovy ’70s muzak, the record immediately makes its intentions known. “All of our representatives are currently busy. Please stay on the line and your call will be answered by the next available representative,” a soothing, English-accented operator informs listeners/callers. “The estimated hold time is currently less than 30 minutes. You are currently caller number 13.” Does Thank You For Your Patience clock in at 30 minutes and 13 tracks? Yes it does.

From there, Colby unleashes one irresistible banger after another. “I Don’t Wanna Get Over You” is all black-light disco strut. “Feels Like A Lifetime” toes the line between dreamy yacht rock and X-rated incidental music. “Yesterday’s News” bops along in a bubblegum-snapping haze. Colby is responsible for all the instrumentation throughout, and his oft-pitch-shifted vocals alternate between Bee Gees Falsetto (“Caught In A Lie”) and Turn The Lights Down Low Lover (“It Never Rains In California”). It’s stunning what he manages to pull off all by himself.

Midway through Thank You For Your Patience, the omnipresent operator, previously relegated to simply counting down tracks and runtime, goes off-book with an extended (and funny) tangent worthy of one of the less-than-helpful computers in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy:

You’re practically halfway from where you began. Only a few brief minutes and you’ll be connected with a very capable customer service agent. The anxiety of anticipation is probably starting to set in. The doldrums of dormancy can lead to everything from a slight annoyance to even perhaps a festering frustration. In this moment you may see me as merely an irritating, repetitive pre-recording. But I’m also your companion and consular during this extended delay.

Let’s discuss your current status. Your needs are not being met. During this brief time you have but one want. Our days are filled with countless desires and cravings, but right now you can dwell on the singularity of having one goal: to speak to someone about fixing some sort of question, problem, or concern you may be having. And, in this moment, you are doing all you can. You are being proactive. The problem has yet to be properly solved, but it’s in the process of being solved. It’s through your actions that the conflict is one step closer to resolution. Mountains have been moved and civilizations have risen and fallen with the same human fervor as you are showing now. You are not permitting these problems to fade into yet another thing to ignore. You are not tolerating. You are not permitting. You are resolute. You are aggressive.

You are currently caller number seven. Thank you for your patience.

Of course, even the most cleverly deployed concept can’t save an album if the songs aren’t there. (It should be noted that an alternate version of Thank You For Your Patience —the so-called “Telesthesia Mix”—even sounds like it’s being played over the phone.) Happily, Colby has been one of the city’s best songwriters since his days with The Delphines and NO/NO, and his knack for effortless hooks is on full display here. “I Don’t Wanna Get Over You” and “Whatever Happens Next” each boast a chorus destined for endless replays in your head. “Yesterday’s News” dishes out a perfectly catchy and self-deprecating put-down in its chorus (“We used to make headlines, but baby now we’re yesterday’s news,”) and “Caught In A Lie” and “Our Song Is Over And The Next One’s Coming On” both play like familiar jingles from the ’70s.

Once again similar to Douglas Adams, Thank You For Your Patience ends on something of a cosmic joke (no spoilers here). That final gag is preceded by a self-titled tune that sounds straight out of Schoolhouse Rock. It’s a one-two punch that represents the bow on a perfectly presented package, a kiss-off to a wildly likable set of songs about the pains, pleasures, and mysteries of anticipation. It’s impossible to not immediately mash the redial button and get put on hold all over again.

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About The Author

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.