1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars
Average music, 17 Jan 2013
WHY DID YOU SELECT THIS ONE? It was selected for me as part of a random album review game on the internet. I streamed it online.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE COVER? It looks like a deliberately bad photograph of a woman at night time at one of those insanely expensive Los Angeles houses on the hills with a swimming pool. I don't think it does anything for me. It doesn't have any mystery, or pull to it. It just looks like a bad photograph were someone is using the wrong light settings for the situation.
On closer inspection I'm starting to think it's an authentically old, and accidentally messed up, 70s Polaroid, and not a modern recreation. It's also probably a hotel on a beach instead of some rich person's home. If anything that makes the cover even less interesting. I don't feel drawn towards it. I feel Vampire Weekend already did this to better effect on their second album Contra (I assume this is an album from 2011 or 2012).
It's not a bad cover. It just doesn't cast a spell over me personally. If I was in a shop I would be interested in it for a second before finding it very easy to put it back on the shelf. I do not feel I need to hear the music inside.
WHAT TYPE OF MUSIC ARE YOU REALISTICALLY EXPECTING?
[Before looking at the tracklist]
The band name doesn't excite me but the album title is promising as it suggests something thoughtful in the style of Belle and Sebastian. I assume they are American. I imagine they perform Fleet Foxes style Americana folk-rock with a strong pop sensibility. By pop I mean more traditional 60s Beach Boys harmonising than synthetic 70s David Bowie. I also expect them to be an all male band. The band I most hear in my head is The Head And The Heart
(this is a very obscure reference so you'll probably have to look them up if you want to know what I'm on about).
[After looking at the tracklist]
The titles are unappealing. They don't conjure up anything. The opening song is called 'Pedals.' This along with the vague album artwork now makes me think of shoegazing bands like My Bloody Valentine and Beach House. Maybe they are more into that sort of ambient haze? Overall I'll stick with my initial impression that they play Americana folk-rock with a strong pop sensibility.
BEST CASE SCENARIO IT WILL SOUND LIKE? Beautiful ambient shoegazer songs with strong melodies and a female vocalist.
WORST CASE SCENARIO IT WILL SOUND LIKE? A stodgy bar band trying to be Vampire Weekend, but without the witty subject matter or the tunes.
HIGH, LOW OR MIDDLING EXPECTATIONS? Two notches below middling.
ANY OTHER COMMENTS? There's not a strong enough hook to it from the cover or the song titles alone to make this appeal to me. If left to my own devices I wouldn't bother with them.
WHAT DID IT SOUND LIKE? Like 40s, 50s and 60s popular music recorded with modern rock techniques, such as guitar pedals and synthesisers. Imagine U2 covering 'Your Mother Should Know' by The Beatles. There is a slight whiff of the shoegazing genre to it.
DID YOU LIKE IT? It was patchy. There were three or four good songs, but the rest was pretty forgettable. I mildly liked it overall, but I feel I've got better music that's sort of in this wheelhouse (Magnetic Fields springs to mind) so I don't feel any desire to buy it.
DID IT SATISFY, SURPASS OR FAIL YOUR EXPECTATIONS? It's hard to say as it didn't match my imagination of what I expected. I suppose it slightly surpassed my expectations.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Blue Angel and Horophones. Anthophobia as probably the best song.
WHAT ARE THE WEAKEST SONGS? Brittany's Back and This Room.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IT TO OTHERS? Not really. I wouldn't shoo anyone away from it, but I can't endorse it either.
PLEASE DESCRIBE AND SUM IT UP IN ONE SENTENCE. Older musical forms reinvented with glossy, glassy, synthetic production techniques.
ANY OTHER COMMENTS?
The album was issued in 2009. For some reason I was pretty certain it was going to be from 2012. Contra by Vampire Weekend was released in 2010, so the found Polaroid cover idea is not knocked off from them.
1. Pedals 4:37 (6 out of 10)
Sounds like We Are Scientists meets Boxer Rebellion. All glassy effect pedal altered chiming, climbing guitars and synths. The vocals are nice and glassy. I would personally prefer a female singer but he has a nice voice that fits well. Sadly the lyrics are pretty vague and meaningless.
2. Brittany's Back 3:06 (4 out of 10)
The singer's voice is now reminding me of the vocalist from Cold War Kids. That is not a good thing as it's a voice that wears thin very quickly. I find this track to be rather busy but aimless. I just don't think the song knows what to do or where to go.
3. This Blood Is Our Own 4:07 (4 out of 10)
Piano and strings dominate. Then what sounds like Hawaiian guitar comes in during the middle. The singer seems to be trying to croon, but he doesn't have the personality in his voice to make it work. I find the track to be drab.
4. Summer Dust 3:42 (5 out of 10)
It was okay. I liked the piano and drum instrumental section in the middle. Just a very average sort of 50s slow dance number.
5. Blue Angel 4:36 (7 out of 10)
Another quasi 50s slow dance number. Has several musical climbs to nice climaxes. Decent aquatic lyrics. A nice atmospheric track. I liked it.
6. Heart To Tell 2:26 (6 out of 10)
An up-tempo song. It reminds me of Mersey Beat 60s music. Has an abrupt ending that leaves you high and dry.
7. Anthophobia 3:05 (7 out of 10)
Sounds like a big band jazz song from the 40s. Interesting.
8. Horophones 2:56 (7 out of 10)
Has a nice stately flow to it. The singer's voice sounds good, I like the words and I like the guitar feedback climax.
9. Wilmont 3:39 (5 out of 10)
Rather indifferent. It's trying too hard to be a pretty ballad and I feel I can see through it. Its ambition makes it look ugly.
10. This Room 1:23 (4 out of 10)
The singing style sounds 50s to me. Song doesn't really do anything.
HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE PLAYED IT? Two times. Once while paying close attention to it, and once as background music. I tried to pay attention to it for a third time but I lost interest and gave up on the fourth song.
HAS THE ALBUM IMPROVED OR WORSENED WITH TIME? Stayed pretty much the same.
ANY PREVIOUSLY UNNOTICED SONGS NOW A NEW FAVOURITE? No.
ANY OTHER COMMENTS? It's perfectly decent music and I can see why people like it. I just personally found it to be more bland and indifferent than anything else. If you don't already own 69 Love Songs
by Magnetic Fields then I recommend that album over this.