Beulah
When Your Heartstrings Break


4.5
superb

Review

by el doctor USER (7 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 23 replies | 5,299 views


Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist


1 of 1 thought this review was well written

My heart goes out to you if you’ve ever been stuck in a room with a bunch of Beulah fans. They’ll undoubtedly begin to argue over which album is the best, with no end in sight to this petty quarrel. “Yoko is their most mature and well thought out work," one may say, while another replies with, “But the cool pop of The Coast Is Never Clear is surely better". A third jumps in on the conversation; “Pfft, everyone knows their debut, Handsome Western States, is the best because it captures that pure organic feel of the band. And it’s lo-fi! Do you hear me? Lo-fi!" Meanwhile, another enters the chatter, simply says “When Your Heartstrings Break", and begins to grin.

Beulah’s 1997 debut, Handsome Western States, was probably enough to single handedly launch the band. This album was released on the famous (or infamous) one-part-Beach-Boys-one-part-Beatles indie pop label, Elephant 6. Under the command of lyricist and vocalist Miles Kurosky (who sounds very similar to Doug Martsch or Built to Spill), Beulah recruited an additional 18 musicians and some slick production for their 1999 sophomore album, When Your Heartstrings Break. The strings and brass sections add a great deal of diversity to their music. While they give the band and album a very distinct sound, it does however eliminate some of the track-by-track diversity you find in indie pop/rock giants like Built to Spill or Spoon, since some of the songs seem to run together.

The songs all have some common threads running through them, and this is a positive thing. The brass parts specifically echo throughout each song, where you’ll have minor variations on a theme from start to finish. All the additional musicians are used perfectly to convey emotion. Slower songs like Silverado Days and Calm Go the Wild Seas use flute, accordion, violin, piano and harp to express a melancholy feeling. The brass section is used to add to the warm feeling of the slower songs, but more often you’ll find them in a raging trombone or sax melody.

At their core, each song is an offbeat love song. Rather than croon about a broken heart, Kurosky pens his lyrics with style, bliss, and a bit of quirkiness. Song titles like If We Can Land on the Moon, Surely I Can Win Your Heart hint at the playful feeling of the songs. Complementing these uplifting and dreamy lyrics are the lush vocal harmonies. Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand is the best example of the sound of this album, and is an absolutely incredible song. The song begins with a two and a half minute sublime introduction that throws a little bit of everything into the mix. Gentle strings and keyboards compliment a steady drumbeat and lead into a distorted guitar riff. Then a parade of brass stampedes in only to be followed by wonderful Beach Boy caliber harmonies.

There are so many things you can say about When Your Heartstrings Break. It’s an indie pop masterpiece with intelligent lyrics. Its lush and inviting music lures the listener in for repeated listens. One could easily describe every single sound included on the album and obsess over every detail, but the music is much better speaking for itself. Beulah created a very upbeat and accessible album with When Your Heartstrings Break where every song is enjoyable and adds equally to the experience. The multiple layers of sound transport the listener into another world that looks something like the cover art, but filled with more color, joy, and relaxation.



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user ratings (51)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Well_Respected_Man
January 9th 2005



75 Comments


There's 18 musicians on this album! I've been interested in these guys for a while, I'll give em another try, great great review.

el doctor
January 9th 2005



83 Comments


I'll delete this post once I have it sorted out, but I need some help with the band members for this album. This is what allmusic has:

Peter Altenberg - Cello, Tabla, Sarangui
Carolyn Engelmann - Harp
Bill Evans - Design, Illustrations
Carlos Forster - Vocals
Mark Franchitto - Cello
John Golden - Mastering
Jason Kleinberg - Violin, Viola
Miles Kurosky - Design
Steve LaFollette - Engineer
Anne Mellinger - Violin
Robert Schneider - Vocals, Mixing
Bill Swan - Engineer
Jeff Swartz - Trombone, Sax (Alto)
Cindy Wigginton - Violin

but I think there's more people and intruments that haven't been mentioned.

Ornery Cephalopod
January 9th 2005



21 Comments


I loooove this album.

ToolBox
June 26th 2006



26 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love this album, although I can't decide which is my favorite between Yoko, Heartstrings, and Coast.

ClearTheLane
November 11th 2008



990 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

getting to this.
Long live Elephant 6 Recording Co.

demigod!
January 4th 2013



40970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

gotta check this. their debut is so awesome

demigod!
January 12th 2013



40970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is pretty sweet, the production is much better but im not sure about the songwriting

Kiran
Emeritus
April 18th 2013



5992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

love this band, 'silverado days' is one of their best

Kiran
Emeritus
May 12th 2013



5992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i love this band sooooo much

demigod!
June 9th 2013



40970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yea this is actually so great

bach
June 9th 2013



11167 Comments


I need to jam this again. Don't remember much from it.

Digging: Deerhunter - Microcastle

demigod!
June 9th 2013



40970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

check the coast is never clear too

this might be my favourite from them so far but they're all really good. first 5 songs on this are incredible

demigod!
June 11th 2013



40970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yay i brought the average up

wacknizzle
June 11th 2013



11948 Comments


Can't believe I never checked this out before since it was released on Elephant 6. I was obsessed with that label and checked out all it's artists after I got into NMH and OTC. But yeah what I've listened to so far is awesome, band is unfairly overlooked.

Digging: Lord Mantis - Death Mask

demigod!
June 11th 2013



40970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

1:15 into The Aristocratic Swells rules so hard

Kiran
Emeritus
June 11th 2013



5992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i could just put this bands discography in a playlist on shuffle all day

demigod!
June 27th 2013



40970 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cant stop listening to this one

bought the coast is clear the other day, that album is also so good
gotta check yoko

bach
June 29th 2013



11167 Comments


Damn jamming hard

foxblood
June 29th 2013



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i've probably listened to If We Can Land on the Moon hundreds of times over the years. it never really gets old even though it's completely ingrained in my memory

bach
June 29th 2013



11167 Comments


Good track. It's all good though. Love how they have a Pavement vibe to their sound.



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