Listener
Wooden Heart


4.5
superb

Review

by Nevin USER (56 Reviews)
December 6th, 2010 | 152 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Listener creates one of the most impressive records of the year, and possibly their magnum opus.

It's an interesting sensation when after listening to album time after time, something finally clicks. It's as if something was hiding beneath the notes and words that your ears couldn't register until another twenty plays on a song, or perhaps just another play through the record. While the occurrence is fairly commonplace in music, it still remains perplexing the way music can grow on you, and this exact sensation came with Listener's 2010 LP, Wooden Heart. Led by Dan Smith, Listener is one of the more unique bands hiding in the poetic indie underground. They utilize a style, which Smith named "Talk Music", which is more a poetic reciting than a standard musical structure. This may be rather off-putting upon first listen, but it soon begins to grow a rather intimate feel to it, feeling as if you've known Dan Smith for years after hearing the record. He shouts passionately in his disjointed manor, his voice twitching and jumping sporadically with the lyrics, but it adds a certain intensity which slowly grows and builds as the album swells until its passionate conclusion. The substance is there and the poetry is remarkable in the way it flows effortlessly, but for the listener it may take several efforts to fully digest what Wooden Heart offers -- and therein lies its beauty.

The record begins with a timid plucking of the banjo, supplying all that is needed for Dan Smith to enter with his shouts in a charming southern twang. His manner of singing, or rather speaking, is what makes this record so appealing. It strays away from natural and flowing vocal work for a more personal and passionate touch much like that of mewithoutYou's Aaron Weiss. However strange it may appear on the surface, it's his vocal work that holds the record together. The poetry he shouts could be told in a variety of ways, but this raw, unrestrained style helps slam the message and emotion across. This holds most true on "Seatbelt Hands", where the story of a waitress in the south never seemed more gorgeous. Smith's descriptions like "She's the kind of lady that calls everybody baby/Honey, sugar, sweetie, she's always making friends and she keeps us all locked outside her thick leather skin" are the most impressive moments of the album. He represents these characters in quick, concise descriptions but makes it seems as if he wrote a novel over them. Paired with the music, which composes mostly of electric guitar and pounding drums, along with a few scattered instruments here and there, Wooden Heart has the makings of a poetic magnum opus for the band -- and it's just waiting to explode.

And the group couldn't deserve the attention any more. Often performing in the basements of anybody who will take them, Listener are one of those groups who appear like a star in the space of the modern underground music scene. Like a diamond in the dirt, stumbling upon them is a true delight, and their fourth LP contains some of the best music of 2010. It rises and falls with its intense, compassionate songs like "Save Up Your Hopes Friends" and the slower, more flowing songs such as "You Were A House On Fire" which holds the diversity to make it worth the several listens it requires to fully digest it. Fans of poetic and passionate lyricism will be immediately attracted to Dan Smith's presentation and lyrical brilliance, and in no time will be hooked. Listener's Wooden Heart, could easily grow to be one of the several excellent records of the year, and for good reason. It holds everything that makes music what it should be.



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user ratings (284)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
FelixCulpa
December 6th 2010


1240 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this defiantly reminds me of mewithoutyou.

And shouldn't it be "their" and not "his" in the summary?


SeaAnemone
December 6th 2010


20834 Comments


nice review, album sounds slightly interesting

try not to start sentences with "and" though



Phideaux
December 6th 2010


1655 Comments


I've never been able to get into mewithoutyou but I'll check this out.

Kris.
December 6th 2010


12429 Comments


this guys part in that chariot song is so ridiculous kind of want this

Slum
December 6th 2010


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

And shouldn't it be "their" and not "his" in the summary?


Well it's practically just Dan Smith, but yeah I should probably put their.

And yeah, Sea, probably shouldn't do that.
c wut I did thar

americanmusicmachine
December 6th 2010


3953 Comments


Nice review. i really like "return to strugglevile".

Slum
December 6th 2010


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I need to hear the rest of their stuff, do you know how it compares to this?

americanmusicmachine
December 6th 2010


3953 Comments


nope. i just dled this so maybe i can tell you more in 40-50min. however from reading yr. review it seems like they're gonna be pretty similar: gothic folk mixed w. hip-hop.

his album 'whispermoon' is quite a bit different. it's pretty much strait hip-hop and he uses a more typical flow.

Slum
December 6th 2010


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I never noticed much of a hip hop influence, as the music is more geared toward folk styles, but i'll check those out

americanmusicmachine
December 6th 2010


3953 Comments


yeah this is actually pretty different than "return to struggleville".
it's not really as dark, everything's more up-tempo and yeah no hip-hop influence here. I actually like this more though, his vocals work much better with the music here.

here's an example of the kinda sound he's got on rts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyTejjdHejs

Slum
December 6th 2010


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wow that's pretty cool, didn't even know about that album. Seems like another thing that would take a couple listens to get into, will check it out

snerefedsav
December 6th 2010


849 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

got this after hearing dan's part in the chariot song. 2nd track in and this is fucking legit. kind of like the "talky" parts of mewithoutyou on steroids

Slum
December 6th 2010


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

haha my thoughts exactly, man

HalfManHalfAmazing
December 7th 2010


607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The first track is pretty awesome, I like how they made a video for every song.

Skimaskcheck
December 10th 2010


2362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great album, was thinking about reviewing this myself, good job though Slum!

Slum
December 10th 2010


2579 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hey thanks man. You should do a review as well, this deserves a lot more attention.

Skimaskcheck
December 10th 2010


2362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah i agree! surprised more of Sputnik aren't onto this

tombomb
December 17th 2010


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

double

tombomb
December 17th 2010


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wooden heart is his (dan's) / their best work yet. been enjoying his / their music for some years and had a great time at shows with him, but this album blew me away. genre? what kind of music is this? good music. meaning: passionate, true, creative...

listener (dan) can be heard rapping on deepspace 5 songs. for example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VMk6mOvdDw

Skimaskcheck
December 17th 2010


2362 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

anyone heard/seen this? The Chariot, Listener makes an appearance, all filmed in one take, it's incredible! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3q5n24QDlk&feature=player_embedded



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