My Education
Bad Vibrations


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
June 28th, 2008 | 34 replies | 9,528 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Incredible mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation.

In modern society, especially in the most industrialized countries, an education is key to success in life. Many American children believe that they will be poor and unsuccessful if they do not go to the best college, get the best degree, and meet the right people. But as The Education of Henry Adams explains, a life's education comprises much more than just school. Indeed, school is of little significance if one hasn't learned the correct moral and social lessons. My Education strikes me as a rather peculiar band name, and I like to think it is one of those band names that actually means something. Perhaps this musical experiment, producing only its second album in nine years with Bad Vibrations, is something of an educational experience rather than a means of living for its members. If so, then Bad Vibrations is a doctoral dissertation in post rock, a brilliant mixture of acoustic and electric, quiet and loud (with plenty in the middle), beautiful and jarring.

What first makes Bad Vibrations unique is its focus on acoustic instruments rather than electric. The only group that can contend with this acoustic nature is Balmorhea, but My Education do not limit themselves. Instead, the band roots itself in these sounds, as opener “This Old House” establishes with its organic, nothing-to-everything style. For much of this song and much of the album, the viola sings the melody while guitars provide chordal support and countermelodies. “This Old House” is an exercise in subtlety, with no crashing tidal wave climax, but instead a simple, natural growth. With the percussion using suspended cymbal swells and tom-tom accents rather than overbearing crash cymbals and snares, the song has something of an orchestral quality about it. Electric guitars only appear as gliding overtones over the song's main material. The album returns to this nature in its closer and title track “Bad Vibrations”, bringing the entire album full circle.

That's not to say, however, that the album is a smooth, soothing ride throughout. The very next song, “Arch”, disproves that theory immediately as it makes fuller use of electric guitars and puts the song in a much more typical rock setting. The sound stands in stark contrast to the sound presented in “This Old House”, but it still roots itself in a more acoustic nature as the viola once again states all the main melodies. Although it gets swallowed in the distorted, ear-shattering climax of the song, the band's reverence for acoustic instruments presents itself in arguably the album's loudest, most intense song, although “Aria” acts in the much of the same manner as this song. “Sluts and Maniacs” presents yet another side of the band, one more rhythmic than melodic. Rather than relying on legato, full soundscapes, it centers around a piano and drum groove. Its sound faintly recalls Jaga Jazzist's “Oslo Skyline”, featuring the xylophone the same way, but it hardly resolves in the same way. The song is divided into two separate sections in melodic material, although its rhythmic style connects the two.

Aside from these sources of variety, however, much of the album plays in that area of legato, full soundscapes with soothing viola melodies, acoustic guitar patterns, and reverberated electric guitar soaring over the entire band. The seven member ensemble finds many ways to differentiate on this small niche, however. “Mother May I” features a faint voice calling from the distance, and instead of using the viola for dancing folk melodies, it simply adds to the chordal structure. “Briches Blanket” is the calm after the storm of “Arch”, with the electric guitar and viola playing off of each other for a very unique sound. Near the end, however, it quickly capitulates to a climax in its own right, with the electric guitar coming to the forefront simply wailing on a single note. Whether understated or epic, each song builds to a climax of its own, and nothing could be considered filler. Bad Vibrations remains consistent and unique throughout.

What makes Bad Vibrations such a great album, one of the best of the year, is not one quality in particular. Instead, it has all the qualities of a great album – originality, natural album flow, consistency, and despite that consistency, standouts that are among the best compositions anywhere. Songs like the brilliantly subtle “This Old House” and “Bad Vibrations” blend acoustic and electric so well that the difference hardly means anything. The multitude of sounds manage to blend into one. Yet the hard-hitting “Arch” and “Aria” provide more cathartic experiences with powerful climaxes. Whatever the purpose of making music for the band My Education, the music is certainly an education within itself.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
ilikemusicthatsucks
June 28th 2008



1063 Comments


I don't like you.

Smileyface
June 28th 2008



309 Comments


Rolling Stone was right on something? I will have to check this out.

ilikemusicthatsucks
June 29th 2008



1063 Comments


why the hell are you being such a douche


Why the hell are people bashing a respected publication just for the f*ck of it?

Iai
Emeritus
June 29th 2008



3553 Comments


I have never heard anybody say anything bad about Rolling Stone before!

taylormemer
June 29th 2008



4887 Comments


The cover makes me feel sick.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 29th 2008



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wow.

rasputin
June 29th 2008



14504 Comments


Really good review. I'll be checking this out.

foreverendeared
June 29th 2008



14678 Comments


just because a publication is respected doesn't mean it deserves the praise and attention it garners. basically, Rolling Stone blows. besides that, good review

EStreetFan
June 30th 2008



89 Comments


That cover art is trippy. It's not helping my upset stomach at all. Great review, though.

ilikemusicthatsucks
June 30th 2008



1063 Comments


just because a publication is respected doesn't mean it deserves the praise and attention it garners.


Agreed but bashing Rolling Stone and Pitchfork on this website are almost a religious tradition to some people. Kind of annoying when it's coming from people that can't write half as good as anyone from those places do. Ohhh but they don't like the Church of Sputnik Holy Trinity (Protest the Father, Thrice the Son, and Mars Volta the Holy Spirit, hallowed be thy name).

foreverendeared
June 30th 2008



14678 Comments


Ohhh but they don't like the Church of Sputnik Holy Trinity (Protest the Father, Thrice the Son, and Mars Volta the Holy Spirit, hallowed be thy name

hahaha awesome. i love that. sputnik should adapt it. but yeah, i see your point.

HighandDriving
June 30th 2008



3232 Comments


ilikemusicthatsucks, you should really head over to absolutepunk and set up your douchery camp there. They lean more to your taste in music and no one has the elitist attitude because, well, they don't know shit.

Go forth my son and make us all proud.This Message Edited On 06.30.08

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
June 30th 2008



2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can we move on from the Rolling Stone comment?

Chewie
June 30th 2008



4531 Comments


that is the sweetest album cover i've ever seen.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
June 30th 2008



2595 Comments


sorry for wiping so many comments, especially Chan's

ilikemusicthatsgood
June 30th 2008



12 Comments


you should apologize for wiping chan's ass as well.

AyatollahKhomeini
June 30th 2008



44 Comments


oh my

natey
July 1st 2008



4170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Sluts and Maniacs" is cool.

P13
July 1st 2008



1327 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't know if its the 8$ price tag on iTunes or the review that makes me interested... It's the review

rasputin
July 2nd 2008



14504 Comments


Got this now, and it's fantastic



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