Review Summary: Breaking the boundaries of traditional genre classification
O'Brother are an interesting band. At first listen, the term post-rock comes to mind. After a few listens to Garden Window however, everything from hard rock, folk, post-rock/metal, indie and alt rock jump out. While this may seem like a cacophonous blend of differing genres that should not work, Garden Window is plainly brilliant. The mix of tempos driven by sometimes down tuned guitars and heavy distorted bass, driving drums and tortured shrieks and beautiful crooning of vocalist Tanner Merritt combine to define one of the most intriguing albums of 2011.
is a slow burning heavy number which simply servers as an opener to the high octane Queens Of The Stone Age-esque Lo
. The energy continues with Sputnik
before declining to the piano melody tinged Poison!
which slows things down. The post-rock rears its head in this track with gorgeous leads trickling out between the bass heavy riffs and off kilter drum signatures. Musical diversity becomes readily apparent in this song as the song slows down near the end, becoming repetitive lyrically, yet so
effective in its emotional buildup. As the album plods on with a lull in energy through the middle, the beautiful climaxes in Lay Down
and Easy Talk
continue to astound.
Garden Window is brilliant in its ambition and the realization of that ambition. While drawing on obvious influences such as GYBE!, Year Of No Light and Mono, the band manage to create an album unique in its melding of seemingly different influences. For the most part, the vocals are sung however in songs such as Cleanse Me
the screamed vocals give the listener chills in the intensity and phenomenal delivery. The post-metal influence is most clearly shown in this song, showcasing pounding percussion, droning feedback and crashing cymbal work.
Garden Window may take several listens to fully appreciate in it's beauty and chaos. Such time invested is well worth it. The listener is rewarded in discovering something of truly excelling value: music that has complexity, intelligence and sincerity.