Review Summary: Immediately beautiful but incredibly myopic, The American Dollar's latest offers little in the way of anything beyond its impeccably polished facade
It’s of no great surprise to find, while reading online literature on ambient-post rock duo The American Dollar, said author inextricably tying the group, no matter how tentatively, to some landmark of regression, a certain pivotal moment that, for better or for worse, helped shape and define that writer into the person that they are today. The beauty of all this, and the simplicity with which this task is accomplished, is that the tandem efforts of Rich Cupolo and John Emanuele are designed with the very real, and richly powerful idea of memory
, of that constant need for us to latch onto our past. Like a dusty photograph hidden away in a shabby cardboard box only to be pulled out of cold storage and wiped clean do these tracks act as a kind of catalyst for remembrance, helping to blow away the thick veil of time. They make soundtracks for mental images etched into our very souls, but more than just acting as a reminder do they help to define
those cherished moments, those beloved little treasures that we’ve nurtured and cared enough about to hold on to.
It’s a commendation and testament to the prowess of the duo how effortlessly they’re able to command our very thoughts without uttering a single word, instead relying on the majesty that only they seem to be able to conjure, that fragile and impressionistic beauty that they bestow upon every track, every line of their music. At times it’s as subtle and diaphanous as a piece of dust caught in the glow of warm light, other times as explosive and confrontational as the disappearance of said light, the abrupt and swift departure of that comforting glow. Awake In The City
, is by and large, nothing more than the casual extension of all that we’ve come to know and expect from these modern day dream catchers; the romantic twinkling of piano keys, the gentle but insistent swell of synthesizers, the organic turbulence of nature versus nurture. Sadly it’s that foresight in expectation that ultimately derails the duo’s latest effort though; while the grazing of familiar ground is no less beautiful and ineffectual, its impact is sadly lessened by its lack of adventurous spirit. Even by The American Dollar’s standards is it a rather tame effort, clumsily stepping in its own footprints instead of blazing its own unique trail through the teeming restless city that it seems to revolt against.
Awake In The City
, while retaining a certain amount of merit, is nothing that we haven’t heard pulled off more efficiently by this duo in the past; the slow almost lulling death-march of ‘Heavy Eyes Ignite’, the subtle grandiose of ‘First Day’ with its shimmering rays of sun-drenched synths. The digitized percussion of ‘Crossing Asia’ that seeks to create a bridge between the human heart and the hard drive, the emotional race of ‘Urbana’, or the gloomy, reluctant finale of ‘Oracle’, that plays out like every other emotional farewell that’s come before it. Perhaps it’s merely a case of familiarity, of being accustomed to the glorious unknown that The American Dollar seems intent on opening inside of us like a fountain of childlike joy, but outside of the immediate senses, there’s a lot here that simply ends up falling on deaf ears. Everything is simply far too obvious, too immediate; conversely, it’s that same reluctance for mystery and subtlety that bogged down their previous LP Atlas
. What used to be a glimpse, a window into a world slightly beyond what the imagination could create for itself is now a deliberate attempt to tug on the heart strings, to rouse distinct and decisive images, rather than our own personal interpretations. It’s clear that the vehicle certainly hasn’t broken down, but it certainly isn’t travelling in any new direction this time.