Review Summary: Delightful indie rock with proggy sensibilities...
St. Louis's So Many Dynamos released their debut, When I Explode, in 2004, and while it wasn't exactly a release that brought enormous success to the band, it did accomplish its mission, to expose a select few to the band's proggy indie rock sound. In the two years after its release, the band expanded on the progressive elements hinted at on the first album, and utilized a rather eclectic collection of additional instruments in the writing process for their sophomore release, Flashlights.
The album as a whole displays a predominately indie rock sound, but elements of progressive music, jam rock, and even experimental/psychadelic elements break into the songs on occasion. To put it simply, the album almost never gets boring. The music, as well as the actual instruments, constantly shift around and evolve, and the sound never really becomes stagnant. Home Is Where The Box Whine Is is an excellent illustration of this, as the song begins with an intro that would feel right at home on a Fall Of Troy album, before segueing into a sing-a-long chorus section containing...blastbeats? See what I mean?
As you may have gathered from the mention of blastbeats, they aren't exactly your average indie rockers, instrumentally speaking. The drumming is absolutely top notch, and displays an almost math rock flair at times, not to mention the interesting beats and cymbal use. The guitarists shift styles constantly, moving in and out of dissonant oddly timed passages, atmospheric sections that draw a bit from post rock, upbeat indie rock sections, progressive rock riffs, and catchy melodic sections, often in the same song. The bass is relatively low in the mix, but its easy enough to make out if you really pay attention. The bass usually uses distortion, which is a bit odd for an indie band, but the contrast it makes with the usually chiming guitar tone adds an interesting aspect to the sound. The vocals are delivered in a half shouted, half sung style, and more times than not there are two or more band members contributing vocals. Other instruments not mentioned include a toy accordion, a horn section, a choir, and what sounds like a toy piano, all of which add to the eclectic feel of the album immensely.
The vocal performances on Search Party, Progress, and How High The Moon are probably the best showcases of the different deliveries that are utelized. Search Party contains some of the most interesting vocal performances on the album, switching back and forth between passionate yelling, lazy melodies, authoritative spoken passages, and even gang shouts. The lyrical content is just as impressive, and odd, as everything else here. I think the best way to illustrate the oddball lyrics are with the opening lines of the song Progress.
"single cell, single cell
synthesize and mutate
we have digits we have organs
let us here is the process you can not stop the progress
there is fiction in our fission
there are actions in our words..."
The most simple way to summarize it is to simply say that there is almost nothing oridinary about So Many Dynamos. Even their live shows, which are almost abhorrently energetic, don't match up with their contemporaries (not to mention they often play with bands such as The Number Twelve Looks Like You and Heavy Heavy Low Low). So Many Dynamos is a band that genuinely has something to offer for all listeners, so if you are a fan of interesting instrumental and vocal work, zany lyrics that actually make sense once you break the surface, or refreshing songwriting, you are sure to find something enjoyable here.