Good Old War
Come Back As Rain


2.0
poor

Review

by Irving Tan STAFF
March 5th, 2012 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: On their third studio release, the Good Old War opt to walk straight down the middle, completely obscuring themselves in the process.

It has become increasingly possible to posit that the term “indie music” has completely lost its meaning in this day and age. Originally used to describe independence from major commercial record labels, or an autonomous, tape-recorder-in-the-bedroom approach to both recording and publishing, the term has gradually become used to identify acts that retained an outsider approach to mainstream music charts and the artists that made up the mercury of those very barometers of fame. No one knows exactly when it happened, but thanks to such gross over-generalization, bands that were previously only dimly aware of each other’s presence suddenly found themselves irrevocably linked overnight into a sort of pseudo-cultural lifestream, whose very existence was based on a vague ethos of what non-conformity was supposed to sound like.

With all that considered, I guess it isn’t altogether surprising that I find myself utterly confused by the Good Old War and their latest studio release, the sufficiently indie-titled Come Back as Rain. Consisting of native Pennsylvanians Keith Goodwin, Tim Arnold, and Dan Schwartz (or “Good”, “Old”, and “War”; yes, I slapped my forehead too), the band’s brief cuts of folksy backing music tends to lean towards the sensitive and the melancholy, with most pieces being borne along by a warm swash of delicate vocal harmonies. While all this is, frankly, rather rudimentary in approach – especially when compared to the brand of folk choir that the Fleet Foxes have perfected in recent times – it retains sufficient angularity and warmth to warrant some attention. Even from an elitist “indie” perspective, that seems a pretty legit sales pitch.

Which is why it's such a shame that the band’s lyrics actually seem much more suited for a modern day The Click Five or Britney Spears single, as opposed to being from a genre that, at its most rudimentary definition, is supposed to be the exact antithesis of such music. “High up in the trees, you made a nest for me/We made loud love above the canopy,” sings drummer Tim Arnold on the album’s penultimate song. It’s the kind of wayward sentiment that makes one desperately hope that he’s actually singing about performing a spot of avian impersonation, as opposed to being in the midst of elocuting some bizarre, back-to-basics sexual fantasy of his. Elsewhere, bandmate Keith Goodwin croons, “Everyone seems to wonder why/I go back to you every time/But I don’t mind/Cause you have amazing eyes”, with that last adjective being stretched out for all it’s worth. The end result is a song that comes off more like an experiment to gauge the minimum amount of effort needed in lyric-writing to make listeners halt their suspension of disbelief, as opposed to a shameless, no-holds barred folksy paean to beauty (those do exist).

As a result, even though their latest set of tunes are halfway decent for the most part, too often Good Old War come across like a parody of themselves, which, unless completely intentional, is about the worst thing that can happen to any performing artist. Accordingly, Come Back as Rain works best when framed as a Polaroid of a mid-career band with the misfortune to be captured at a moment in which they find themselves with absolutely nothing to say – nothing worth paying attention to at any rate, unless you can find some higher meaning in an inherently contradictory line like, “It was not quite happiness/Just love, just love, just love.” Yet the strangest sensation of all that listening to this release brings is the realization that these three blokes might have been able to pull all this off if they hadn’t been a band with a set of acoustic instruments, but instead a heavily done-up power pop outfit equipped with a sackful of good looks, a couple decent synth samples, and a hefty amount of AutoTune.



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user ratings (53)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
kevin234 (3)
Wait, haven't I heard this before?...

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...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2012


7312 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Stream: http://goodoldwar.bandcamp.com/album/come-back-as-rain

Hai gaiz.

iFghtffyrdmns
March 5th 2012


7047 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

.......30 fucking seconds, Irving.
well this is awkward.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2012


7312 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I hate u.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
March 5th 2012


10614 Comments


Well looky here. I wouldn't say you were gone too long, Irving. Review was wonderful to read, and judging from what you said, I'm going to avoid the hell out of it.

Digging: Kayo Dot - Coffins On Io

iFghtffyrdmns
March 5th 2012


7047 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

honestly I totally agree with pretty much everything you said, I'm just more of a sucker for it I guess.

nice write up Irv good to see you back around these parts

Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2012


7312 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah I've been really busy with my job as an operations geologist. It's nuts. I get home at around eight every day (having left home at 6.30 am), and it's been really hard trying to juggle life and work whilst trying to improve my reviewing skills in between. Here's hoping here's the first step to a complete recovery. I must say that it's pretty good to be back iFght - even if you spoiled my comeback =) + ;)

Also, this is the fourth straight "less-than-2.5" review I've handed out this year. Got any good recs guys? 2011 is owning my 2012 so damned hard right now (last year's hits are all I listen to these days).

HeathenEarthling
March 5th 2012


91 Comments


Not all bad music is indie, but all indie is bad.

Oceanus
March 5th 2012


877 Comments


Very nice review here. I agree with many of your points, but I can't say that I expected much different from this band in the first place. Their songs are pretty fun and catchy, and all the dudes are really nice and great, but their lyrics never felt particularly impassioned in the first place. I guess that I enjoy it, but I cringe at times.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2012


6208 Comments


monumental first paragraph, good review, pos

However, this sentence reads awkward.

Which makes it such a shame that the band’s lyrics actually seem much more suited for a modern day The Click Five or Britney Spears single, as opposed to being from a genre that, at its most rudimentary definition, is supposed to be the exact antithesis of such music



Digging: Seduced (AT) - The Proclamation

Ponton
Emeritus
March 5th 2012


5804 Comments


band is almost a technical 'average'

ThroneOfAgony
March 5th 2012


3485 Comments


Haha

NeutralThunder12
March 5th 2012


8742 Comments


sad i liked their last one

Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 5th 2012


7312 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Whoa, so this got negged hard.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2012


10288 Comments


Try to imagine a day where Sputnikers won't piss their pants in aggravation when their friendly local contributor reviews any significant album negatively...

Yeah, I couldn't do it either

Irving
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2012


7312 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Man, I didn't even know the Sput would actually LIKE these guys.

@ Voivod: Thanks for the heads-up man. I made some small changes. Appreciate the feedback as always =)

El_Goodo
March 7th 2012


1008 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I definitely don't agree with the review; you seem to be missing the point. The band is about acoustic guitars and big harmonies and the comparison to Britney Spears is silly. Ever heard of the Everly Brothers? They didn't have deep lyrics but they had great songs, same with this band. Besides the most interesting part lyrically in Amazing Eyes (which I'll admit is a little cheesy) is "You have amazing eyes, the right one's suspicious while the left one wants my love."

I'll admit the album isn't groundbreaking; it's just a set of good music which is something that seems to be appreciated less and less these days.

ThompsonhuntK
March 9th 2012


11 Comments


Review was alright. The length is what bugged me, since the context was essentially, "This is what indie music unfortunately turned into and the lyrics on this album are kinda lame."

Expecting anything else besides what they delivered would be a little silly, since their past two efforts haven't been painfully different in terms of lyrics. They are a band that doesn't attempt to over emphasize on any one aspect, rather practice a well-rounded approach. For those times, when romance reveals itself as having the ability to be approached simply, these lighthearted lyrics and catchy guitar melodies work pretty damn well.

Oceanus
March 14th 2012


877 Comments


Just got back from seeing them live, and it was absolutely fantastic.

fuckthatnoise
April 2nd 2012


1479 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

eh this is ok i guess. 2.5/3.

lyrics are awful (for the most part), but the melodies are pretty nice. i sincerely doubt that i'm gonna listen to it again after this initial listen but yeah.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2012


7312 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

That's a pretty accurate assessment. I was feeling pretty ok with it when I put on the album and heard the first few notes...but then the first verse came in and I was like, "...no".



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