Top critical review
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what a shame...
on 30 January 2005
this could have, even should have been the best album of the year. 2002's 'source tags & codes' is a 21st century classic, and conrad keely's songwriting and arranging talents have improved enough to even better that masterpiece. this is demonstrated often enough: on the opening 'ode to isis', which quotes mozart and then leads into 'will you smile again', one of the best songs here. starting with furious guitars, it decends into a minimal throb, over which keely delivers one of his best ever vocal performances. 'summer of '91' is a nostalgic piano ballad, which isn't what i would normally expect of this band, but it's pleasing enough. 'caterwaul', sung by jason reece, is the most aggressive track, but seems tame compared to most of their earlier work. it is still one of the better songs, especially compared to the dirge that follows. 'classic arts showcase' fails to live up to its title; it is a dull plodding song about watching too much TV (i assume), redeemed only by a great orchestral mid-section. 'let it dive' is even worse; it sounds like an oasis b-side. previously, the title track finds the band impersonating blink 182, and 'the rest will follow' would be a great song for any average mid-west emo band, but for trail of dead it just isn't good enough. they appear to have compromised their artistic credibility for mainstream acceptance, which is a shame for such a talented band. the last 4 tracks are utterly amazing, which makes the obvious sell-out even harder to bear.
the violin-led 'to russia my homeland', the fantastic beatles and bowie stealing 'all white', the self explanatory 'the best' and spooky electronic closer 'lost city of refuge' all show which direction this band should be heading in. however, 'worlds apart' as a whole is let down by the band succumbing to interscope pressure. maybe if they get a couple of hit singles this time around they can concentrate on making a worthy successor to 'source tags...'. until then we'll have to make do with the 8 superb tracks featured here.