Air Review
Low Wishes


4.5
superb

Review

by Irving Tan STAFF
January 12th, 2013 | 95 replies


Release Date: 01/29/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: All these miles start with you.

If Arcade Fire’s Funeral proved anything, it is that for an album to even have the slightest chance of being regarded as a modern classic, it must come out of the blocks ringing with the sort of startling, all-consuming clarity that only the most self-assured of bands tend to have. Similar runaway successes for bands like The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys seem to agree: Is This It, for instance, was bathed in a confident, play-by-our-numbers-please swagger as it resolved itself into a thirty-six minute slab of garage rock goodness, whereas Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am… burgeoned with the sort of casual articulacy that defied the band’s tender age. Dallas indie rock band Air Review may have technically needed two tries to get it right, but Low Wishes, their first release under Velvet Blue/Spune Records, is the kind of album which will likely deserve every single accolade it receives from here on out.

While arguably lacking the irrepressible, hey-look-at-me-now tendencies of the three cornerstone records mentioned earlier, Low Wishes still shares several qualities with them. An immersive, seamless atmosphere that’s not explicitly modern or old permeates the entire record, while vocalist Douglas Hale’s lyrics are rife with an introspective, piercing beauty; in addition, there’s also an apparent willingness to hedge the band’s sound with influences that one typically doesn't expect to see on an indie rock record. Take, for instance, “America’s Son”, which introduces itself with folksy guitar leads and Hale’s bluegrass-tinged vocals; then there’s “Young”, which spends most of its runtime being dominated by waffly synthesizers before giving way to the kind of unabashed choral clapping that would not have sounded out of place on a pop album. In the hands of a less confident band all this might have turned out to be a right old mess, but Air Review seem to know exactly what they’re doing and leave no stone unturned in their quest to produce something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. “I sold my ashes for a vial of the truth,” sings Hale on the album’s title track, and you can just about see the glint in his eye.

Thematically, Low Wishes captures a band obsessed with documenting the little grains of truth that turn up in the rigors of everyday life. “When we were kids we believed in everything,” is the thesis that opens “Rebels”, with Hale offering up the kind of damning indictment that hints at volumes of shattered dreams and disillusioned hearts. “There’s only one thing left to believe in now that we’re old,” he adds a split second later, before finally dropping the clincher: “And it’s the one thing I cannot ignore – that you’re always on my mind.” Yet the American singer-songwriter is quick to show that the passage of time can cut both ways, “Seven weeks of life is enough to call you mine,” he whispers on the mysteriously titled “H”, whereas “Low Wishes” features that embodiment of infinite hope: “All these miles start with you.” These instances of fine lyricism aside, it may be somewhat surprising to note that Hale’s standout performance on Low Wishes actually appears on the song which arguably features the album’s most rudimentary lyrics. On the ghosting, corporeal “My Automatic” the vocalist infuses his lines with such a sublime beauty that it’s hard not to stop what you’re doing just so that you can free a hand to turn the volume up a little. “Feel my bones/See I have an unkempt soul,” begs the singer in a soothing dulcet tone. "Make it so no one knows/This is my automatic." Evidently, this not a band that will be content with merely being in cruise control.

Yet the really amazing thing about Low Wishes is how it constantly demands your attention despite there being a complete absence of a natural break in tone across the album’s nine songs. A case in point is the title track, whose flourishing drumwork and taut, half-shouted vocals suggest that it should stand in stark contrast to the haunting “My Automatic”, yet when the two end up suffusing so effortlessly into each other on the album, it’s hard to disagree with the manner in which Air Review have chosen to stitch their songs together. Elsewhere, album closer “Animal” is so clearly designed to recycle perfectly into “Rebel” that the band might have just as well recorded themselves shouting “Now press repeat!” into the microphone at the end of the song. Low Wishes also thrives on account of the sense of dignified isolation that lusher tracks like “Waiting Lessons” or “Animal” provide. On the former, dreamy key leads, their effect magnified tenfold by Justin Robinson’s cavernous drumwork, are allowed to rise and fall tantalizingly before trailing into a set of tingling guitar notes, while the synths that adorn the background of “Animal” wink and fade away from the listener like light from oncoming headlamps on the edges of a wet windshield. The end result is a listening experience that is at once both beautiful and lovestruck, yet harrowing and sincere.

In a year that will undoubtedly be chock-full of high quality releases in a matter of weeks, Air Review have already put out an early contender for best indie rock album of the year. Low Wishes, while in all probability not quite like anything that you’ve ever heard before, does manage to retain an air of distinct and radiant familiarity which will grab irresistibly at you from start to finish. So let it be known, then, that the New Year has well and truly arrived.



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user ratings (36)
Chart.
3.6
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


7281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

For Miss Low.

Listen to "America's Son", "Low Wishes", and "Waiting Lessons" here: http://airreview.bandcamp.com/

The album is streaming here now, for anyone that's interested:

http://kxt.org/first-listen-air-review/


Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


7281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

OMGZ A 4.5 IRVING REVIEW WHAT IS THIS MADNESS

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 11th 2013


23819 Comments


wait seriously?

GiaNXGX
January 11th 2013


4867 Comments


A 4.5 IRVING REVIEW WHAT IS THIS MADNESS


Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 11th 2013


23819 Comments


I mean maybe if they were from Austin, but fucking Dallas?

hmm, I'm skeptical, but will probably check

foxblood
January 11th 2013


6797 Comments


a 4.5 and mention of funeral right off the bat alright i'll check

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
January 11th 2013


23819 Comments


yeah but rec'd by reviewer also has The King is Dead so idk mannnnnnn

foxblood
January 11th 2013


6797 Comments


what do i trustt

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


4424 Comments


Wow. I really liked the EP. I immediately adored "America's Son", it's very catchy and warm. I'll definitely give this a good listen
on the release date.

Good find, mate.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


7281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

what do i trustt

Listen to me because a.) I'm Staff and b.) I'm the site's official reviewer of meh, so when I hand out a 4.5 you KNOW it's a 4.5. This album will be worth every inch of hyperbolic claim it receives.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


7281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

LOL XD

robin
Emeritus
January 11th 2013


4248 Comments


god all you ever do is review 4.5s get over yourself irving

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


7281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Listen to this, perhaps, Robin? =)

(it's not out yet though haha)

robin
Emeritus
January 11th 2013


4248 Comments


is this just a 3.0 review disguised as a 4.5 review god

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


10419 Comments


who do you think you are robin smith

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


7281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Also good God it's so much easier to write about a 4.5 album than it is for a 3. I demand that mx pays me double per word for every 3 review I write on here!!

feanaro
January 11th 2013


828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh my that is a compelling recommended list

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


15737 Comments


sellout

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


7281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

^ AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2013


15991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A 4.5 review. (hey this could be good, could also be shit who knows)

Written by Irving (I don't know what the fuck all these words mean, but it sure sounds good!)

Under the Alt/Indie genre (Attn: Sowing)

Seems as though I should check this out! (and not in the way I just say to be polite, I'm actually going to iTunes right now)

CORRECTION: Not on iTunes, so headed to bandcamp now that I read your first post.

Digging: Sharon Van Etten - Are We There



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