Review Summary: Time of Orchids lite
Capillary Action's "So Embarrassing" should be regarded as incredible for one main reason; the horn sections. Examples of the brilliance of the horn sections can be found in "Elevator ***" and "Placebo or Panacea" where the horns simply don't just provide another blast of noise, but literally they act as the underlying developer of Jon Pfeffer's bizarrely catchy melodic changes. Another positive is how beautifully the string and horn sections are produced which can easily be explained due to the addition of Colin Marston in a production capacity. Most of what the band is doing on this record seems to be a meeting point between the break neck changes of Mr. Bungle with the melodic creativity of Time of Orchids. In many ways "So Embarrassing" parallels two of my most recent favorites "Blue Lambency Downward" and "Namesake Caution" in how it bridges the more sophisticated melodic ideas of jazz and classical composition with modern rock and pop. Every member of this group is playing at a peak of effortless rhythmic changes and carefully arranged harmonies. This attention to detail the members provide to each movement helps some of the more jilted sections like the end of "Bloody Nose" play a little smoother than they would otherwise. “So Embarrassing” is yet another example of how great mixing the avant garde and more simple genres works greatly.
Though "So Embarrassing" deserves a large amount of praise the record does fall apart due to a few simple flaws. First, where bands like Time of Orchids and Kayo Dot are going through massive amounts of changes they seem to have a sense of when to let things develop. Capillary Action seems to fall into the Mr. Bungle comparison I drew earlier and be more about showing off their ability to shift between vastly different parts in short amounts of time. This is probably more of a personal preference but because of that a lot of the beauty in these songs seems to be lost. "Paperweights" is a notable exception with its drawn out acoustic portions being one of the most beautiful sections on the record. Still, the groups to which Pfeffer's indulgencies seem to relate are far more experienced and have had time to develop their ideas, Pfeffer is only 21 and already he has released an album that possesses a very original sound as well as an impressive amount of musicianship. Given the time to let his music mature I'm sure he will find himself in the company of his peers and inspirations, but for now his music will just have to settle for being very impressive instead of awe inspiring.