Review Summary: From terrible tragedy comes great beauty.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Geographer is the brain-child of one man, Michael Deni. Deni fled New Jersey shortly after the deaths of his sister and father in short succession. He ended up in San Fransisco playing various open mic nights after finding (yes, finding) a discarded synthesizer on the street. After meeting a few different musicians at the open mic nights, Geographer was born. They released an overlooked debut LP titled "Innocent Ghosts" in 2008, which dealt with the tragedy in Deni's life.
Exactly two years to the day later, they released this EP, "Animal Shapes". In the time between, two things had clearly changed about their sound: the guitars took a backseat to the synthesizer that got him started making music, and they lost a vocalist. However, this EP shows they've recovered nicely from the lost member, whatever the reason that may have caused the departure.
Danceable-indie rock isn't anything groundbreaking anymore, but it's still got a lot of life left in it. One of the things that Geographer benefits from is Deni's vocals. He has a very pleasant voice, sometimes sounding like Ra Ra Riot's Wesley Miles. The lyrics in "Animal Shapes" tend to focus on love lost this time around. The album opens with "Original Sin", and a good reference point for the sound would be Star***er.
Up next it "Kites", which was released as a 7-inch well before the EP. Deni gives his best vocal performance in this song, moving into a high falsetto prior to the 8-bit sounding synth that keeps the song moving. Following that is "Verona", a personal favorite from the album. Sounding like a less-chipper Passion Pit song, it has a yearning chorus, stating "What lies in the night, if I could be yours then you could be mine".
The next song, "Paris", is the most upbeat on the album, with a soaring synth opening the way for some distortion that sounds like something from a Unicorns song, prior to slowing down with Deni's once-again striking vocals giving weight to the whole thing. Following is "Heaven Waits", which sounds as close to anything on the debut LP as anything on the rest of the EP. It's absent of synths, using guitar and strings to hold the song together (the strings only strengthen the vocal resemblance to Wiley). It's a striking yet welcome change in the pace of the album. The EP closes with "Night Winds", which brings the strings back, this time with the synthesizer being used too. It's a good combination of new and old, and leaves an open-ended promise of things to come on the next LP. If they can continue to find the "in-between place" between the two releases, they should have something really special on their hands.