Review Summary: A case where diversifying sounds is a weakness instead of a strength.
Over the course of their career, Danish Efterklang have undergone a sonic shift from a vocal-tinged post-rock campaign to a more indie-pop sound that now plays to those listeners that are looking for remembrance and melody in their music. Like a temperature change that occurs from season to season, the band’s progression has been slow and steady but has certainly been felt overtime. Tripper
debuted the band on a Sigur Ros-styled English note, and Parades
followed by detouring Clasper Clausen and his Danish crew into something more along the lines of The Album Leaf’s recent melodic exploits; now, on Magic Chairs
, the sonic shift continues on from the parade that ended in late fall of 2007 and gives us an indie-pop-esque product that forsakes much of the quintet’s initial post-rock beginnings.
’ strength lies in the band’s confidence to adapt and utilize their new sound effectively. Clasper Clausen’s knack for building subtle vocal melodies around the diverse yet underplayed instrumental aspects of the band is the main bread and butter for this album; throw in some lovely harmonizing from Heather Broderwick (piano and flute), and you have a solid foundation for crafting a good, if not standard and unremarkable indie-pop release. This “standard” yet diversified feel that pervades much of the album, if anything at all, happens to be the vice that keeps Efterklang’s new release from reaching a post-rock-esque climax of success.
“Modern Drift” opens Magic Chairs
by flirting with circling textures, lovely violins, and a drum-led melody, which initially bring promise for what it is to come, however, happens to unpleasantly contrast the dull trudging of “Alike” and “I was Playing Drums” that immediately follow. As such, Magic Chairs
continues with a strong-song, weak-song progression for its ten-song course; none of either descriptions of songs being strikingly memorable or slip-of-the-mind forgettable either. “Full Moon”, closer “Natural Tune”, and the aforementioned opener are the album’s strongest peaks, if you must call them that; the middle of which’s rapid, acoustic picking and melt-in-your seat melody from Clasper and Heather ends the album on such a fine note that many might even be tricked into believing that Magic Chairs
is better than it actually is.
Given the slight but noticeable change that was heard when comparing Efterklang’s Tripper
albums, one could have guessed at what Magic Chairs
would have sounded like even before listening. The act of moving indie-pop to the center stage of attention sounds reasonably strong and confident in practice, true, but it must be said that the band spends a little too much time trying to diversify and “wow” us with their assortment of instruments and varying tempos, when they should be concentrating on a particular strength of their sound and building it into an impressive set of songs that flow and remain memorable in the long run. Encompassing to a fun set for live shows but resulting in an airy, negatively diversified album, Magic Chairs
marks a band that is evidently in a continued transition of sounds; who knows what they will give us next time, or more importantly, how good it will sound?