Radiohead. Steve Burns. Pedro The Lion. Wilco. The Flaming Lips. Wheat.
Many of these influences are found on missAntarctica's debut "Lost Electricity" (Island), a fitting title for a band who displays it's cd cover with electricity masts scattered across seemingly infinite layers of white shaded surfaces. Then again, is it?
A band that calls himself after a beauty pageant fom an (almost) non modern civilized country, doesn't want to be defined just by their influences, even if it is by amazing bands like The Flaming Lips or Radiohead. It's safe to say that missAntarctica is made to stand on it's own.
One of the most interesting things is that this group is multinational, full of world citizens. singer/poet/guitarist Richey Glass and fellow Brit/longtime companion Jas Langdon, have moved from the UK to Holland, where they recruited Dutch skinsman Jochem van Rooijen and fellow countryman/keyboard player Sytse Wieringa to form missAntarctica. If a band can't be defined by nationality, than you might as well name yourself after the most foreign of places.
'Lost Electricity' is an album that is definately fit for the cold winter season. The majestic, almost transparent soundscapes Glass creates out of his guitar sound like icicles dropping down in harmony onto a shiny mallet. His sorrowful sneer can sometimes not grasp pace with the soaring melodies and pounding drives, but he has a very nice bizarre imagery in his lyrics that fit the music well. Not bizarre to an extent that it becomes pretentious anyway. Jochems bombastic skin-abusements are reminiscent to The Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd. Sytse's keyboards and sampling complements the band really well. Jas' bass playing is thick and dynamic very likewise to bands such as Mercury Rev or The Delgados.
The opener "The walls come tumbling down" already capivates with the moaning, almost crying guitars. Despite the somewhat hopeless, sorrowful tone in the vocals and lyrics, the song is pretty uplifting. The contrast works great however. "Snow Girls" is one of my favorite songs on the album. Glass' whiney voice actually works very well. I love the quirky blasts of the guitar going into the the chorus, where Jochem abuses the tom skins very nicely. Very well written song, a big big highlight.
"With You Hello (Is One Step From Hell)" sounds alot like Coldplay when you hear it's arrangements. But it's way more brilliant in my opinion, especially the lyrics. When Glass sings "with you hello, is one step from hell" it's almost as if he's lost mentally in the avalanche of sound the chorus brings. The transition to the bridge is somewhat awkward, but the band makes it amends, with that beautiful lush guitar solo. I wish there were more guitar pop songs nowadays THIS good. "House Of Leaves" stands out from the average guitar based rock song with the interesting guitar progressions. It has some bizarre avantgarde trombone playing tangled with Richeys guitar playing.
"We Trace Trace Faint Lines" is nice slow lullabye, it's a very minimalist. I'm sucker for ballady songs like this. Very touchy feely, with beautiful, simple, lush arrangements. "Things To Do Before I Die" is a lyrical sumup from Richey to...just as the title says I guess. Not literally, but with some good imagery like "put the nomad in me to rest who crushes rocks to make a desert" or "write a happy feel good pop song", which is almost as if he's poking fun at himself. Don't imagine the music to be secondary to the lyrics, because there is definately a balance. The songs drive is quite jumpy, and there is another nice guitar solo in the songs climax.
"Robots On Holiday" is the most rock-out on the song on "Lost Electricity", with a very uplifting mood. But It still sounds as if there is something missing. The lyrical delivery is also pretty repetitive, which is a awkward contrast to the dynamic intense approach of the instrumentation. I do like the slow, noisy waltz that ends the song. The album mellows out again with the haunting depresser "Stray Dogs And White Walls", which doesn't really astray anywhere to anything unexpected or interesting. Much better is "All The Pretty Dolls". Imagine watching from outside at night when it snows, and this track sets the mood perfectly. Glass' vocals remind me remotely of Wayne Coyne of the Lips in this song.
The epic "Cold Modern Flat Times" is musically very impressive, but the lyrics seems a little out of place with the melodies. "Kitty" however is a very good closer. The opening vocals, are sung almost unrestrainable and childlike. Usually his voice sounds very sharp and snobby, a bit like Placebo's Brian Molko. I like the strange bending melodies of near the songs, and albums climax.
The Walls Come Tumbling Down
With You Hello (Is One Step From Hello)
We Trace Faint Lines
All The Pretty Dolls
Interesting melodic progressions
Nice unique lyrical approach
Very nice imagery
Every song stands on it's own yet all the songs fit together as a whole album
Vocals are hit or miss
The album drags down a bit as it progresses
Some awkward mixing
I think it's a good debut, and I'm pretty sure they'd break through if they were stationed in the UK, more people would know about them. Their frontman, Richey Glass is very talented in my opinion, and the band already has 'their' sound, despite some noticable influences, which is a big feat considering the bands multinational background. They will definately grow, the talent is there. Sure, they are virtually unknown by anyone who'll read this review, but I believe they deserve to be heard about.
I'm pretty sure they capture the sound you would expect just by reading this review, and the imagery of this album.