Review Summary: Stunning on every front, this is aesthetics put into sound, creating human feeling behind every song.
I had a bit of an intervention with music. My teachers thought I was getting into far too much hardcore, and I decided they might be right. I resolved to try and find some calmer things to expand my horizons, but that’s where the problem came in. I was used to the intricacies of technical metal, the crazy patterns and beauty that could come out with a few experienced artists armed with drop-C guitars and some good distortion. Then, one night, I came across this band on the iTunes store. I sampled every song and some chord was struck in me, saying, “This is the one. Get this now.”
That night, I walked around town with my faithful canine in the snow and dark for three hours with the CD on repeat. Sweet Jesus
, that was a good feeling.
The band has a full, rich sound, which is almost inevitable when you belong to an eight piece band. From Indianapolis, Indiana, they focus musically on an acoustic and vocal driven sound, while amazingly intricate arrangements fill the background. In literary terms, the sound is the equivalent of walking through an art museum and understanding each piece as if you made it yourself.
The CD begins with some ambient noise. The surprise here is it isn’t one of those fantastic intro fillers that have become oh-so popular with the kids these days. From the second the first guitar appears over the noise, the magic starts to unfold. Slowly, a shaker, a piano, a violin, a cymbal roll, and a bass settle in overtop of it, all subtly working to get your head bobbing. And when Richard Edwards opens his mouth, the album really begins to show it’s colors. Each instrument works towards a beautiful sound, perfectly in key, memorable, and intelligent.
The aforementioned vocal wankery is definitely the standout point of this band. That wording may or may not bring up mental images of Rody Walker spazzing all over a microphone, but either way the phrase does Richard Edwards no justice. Without this man singing, the band would be a headless; hardly operational, and most certainly not successful. From the depressing crooning of “A Sea Chanty of Sorts
” to the near voice cracks in “Paper Kitten Nightmare
”, he establishes himself as the metaphorical icing on the cake. Never falling behind the organizational wizardry of the band, he is another purposeful layer that molds seamlessly into the beautiful sound.
Each song has a distinctive feel. For example, “Barfight Revolution, Power Violence
” has energetic, rock-ish vibes, while “Light on a Hill
”has the uncanny power to depress any single happy occasion. I don’t suggest you test that theory. The songs convey clear emotion, making this a thoroughly human record. In reality, that’s the greatest thing any work of music can do.
Lyrically, the album is a gem, each line being delivered beautifully, placed perfectly with the music. Harmony, practicality, and aesthetics were all taken into account with the vocals, and the lyrics themselves are nothing short of beautiful.
“On a freezing Chicago street we shook…
Your hands were trembling from all those pills you took,
And we got drunk on cheap red wine in a paper cup.
And I was barely awake when you got home,
And climbed yourself into bed wearing cheap perfume.
And Sarah screamed, “Your every breath is a gift.
If you weren't so selfish then you might want to live.”
So if your lover should leave, don't get too sad.
And don't compose epic poems to win her back,
'Cause when your bird has flown, she'll never return home.
Though all your life you'll wait she never will return”
While the songs don’t thrust themselves in your face and scream, “LOOK AT ME, I’M INTRICATE
”, the effect is easily reached. Every layer is complimentary, from the barely-there piano, to the subtle climbing of an unidentifiable string instrument. If all these sub-par analogies aren’t making any sense to you, just be reassured it sounds pretty. That’s pretty much all this CD is.
The aesthetics behind this album are astonishing. From the intellectual arrangements, the musical wizardry, and the overall beauty, this album deserves a classic. I can’t even think of flaws for the album, let alone a reason to describe it as less than it is. It’s beauty, pumping through machines. And that, as music lovers, is the very most we can ask for.