The Capsules
Northern Lights and Southern Skies


2.5
average

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
January 16th, 2013 | 18 replies | 3,649 views


Release Date: 01/15/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Constantly on the verge of making an impression, but lacking in creativity.

The story of The Capsules’ formation is an intriguing one. A guy and a girl who started writing music together in high school fell in love and got married, and at an age where most people are just beginning to figure out their lives, Jason and Julie Shields were already professional musicians. Signed to a label and to each other, the duo started touring with famous acts such as The Flaming Lips, Garbage, Mercury Rev, and Low. After adding a skilled drummer in Kevin Trevino, they went on to release three albums prior to their most recent, earning a modest but dedicated following in the process. With forward momentum working in their favor, The Capsules have now dropped Northern Lights & Southern Skies – an intriguing departure from their prior efforts. Whereas the band’s first three albums were rooted in traditional indie and folk practices, Northern Lights & Southern Skies sees them leave their instruments behind in favor of electronic beats and synthesizers – yielding fascinating but ultimately mixed results.

The album’s opening punches are admittedly strong. ‘Across the Sky’ and ‘From the Start’ boast dense atmospheres and contrasting tempos that ebb and flow like the first two tracks of a good electronic album should. Julie Shields delivers memorable melodies and catchy hooks, even on the dark and fuzzy ‘Our Apocalypse’ and the urgent, paranoid sounding ‘With Signs Repeating.’ For a while, it almost seems like Northern Lights & Southern Skies will bedazzle us for its entire duration. However, the novelty of The Capsules’ electronically-driven sound wears off fast.

By the album’s midsection, you will begin to hear recycled bass loops, similar sounding electronic beats, and resultantly, songs that are all homogenous. The simplistic beats and forgettable vocal melodies on tracks like ‘Where It All Begins’ and ‘All At Once’ leave a lot to be desired, and they bear too strong of a resemblance to all the other dime-in-a-dozen electronic popularity wave surfing bands out there. The Capsules struggle to rectify this issue straight across the board, with the only possible exception coming when they grind to a complete halt, allowing Julie’s mesmerizing vocals to lull you into a trance. ‘The Heartbreaker’ is a passable attempt at this, but the closing track ‘Magnetic Fields’ is where they really get it right. Isolated and cold, it evokes no particularly sad feeling, but rather a distance from emotion altogether. In the end, it proves that The Capsules are at their best when Shields dictates the pace, because the electronic soundscapes that the band has opted for aren’t complicated or structured enough to stand on their own.

Trapped between the otherworldliness of its lush atmospheres and an inability to deviate from electro-pop clichés, Northern Lights & Southern Skies is an album that constantly finds itself on the verge of making an impression. While it certainly has its moments, the vast whole suffers from a lack of variety. The successful approach of the album’s first few tracks is employed again and again, resulting in a would-be solid record that is simply stretched too far for its own good. There is something to be said about creating an “album atmosphere”, but The Capsules end up pigeonholing their sound in the name of consistency. Perhaps in the future, they will incorporate some of the indie/alternative influences that were so prevalent across their first three records – or at least find a way to branch out within the electronic approach that they appear to have unanimously adopted. The Capsules have certainly presented us with a decent album for the time being, but until they find ways to expand upon Northern Lights & Southern Skies, they will never rise above the pack.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2013



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Stream:
http://music.aol.com/new-releases-full-cds/spinner#/8

Recommended Tracks:
Across The Sky
From The Start
Magnetic Fields

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

Tyrael
January 16th 2013



20731 Comments


Aww

The future of indie pop seems pretty bleak now :/

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2013



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The old me probably would have given this a 3.5 ; )

All jokes aside though, there are a few tracks well worth your time. The stream is posted in the comment above yours.

Tyrael
January 16th 2013



20731 Comments


I've used up my alotted bandwith for this month but it gets reset tomorrow so I'll listen then

But did you get a chance to listen to that Allo Darlin' album I recced you yet?

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2013



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

No to be honest I forgot : (

Sorry bro I'll make it up to you

Tyrael
January 16th 2013



20731 Comments


Haha that's okay

I don't know if the new you is gonna like it though ;]

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
January 16th 2013



49788 Comments


Capsule US, Capsule Japan, and now The Capsules yeesh

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2013



7140 Comments


What are you doing reviewing a meh album this is MY turf gtfo Sowing

=p

Calc
January 16th 2013



11978 Comments


"The future of indie pop seems pretty bleak now"

listen to Everything Everything's new album if you havent.

Digging: Kashiwa Daisuke - April. #02

NightmareCinema16
January 16th 2013



2016 Comments


Irving: the king of "Meh" reviews.

Tyrael
January 17th 2013



20731 Comments


'listen to Everything Everything's new album if you havent.'

I did

wasn't too impressed tho :/

Killerhit
January 17th 2013



5209 Comments


from the start sounds really good

this album so far isn't bad

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2013



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I never said it's bad. People should definitely give it a listen, just to see if it is anything more than average to them.

Killerhit
January 17th 2013



5209 Comments


Your review says it's just tepid. ._.

Im up to the heartbreaker and so far its about 3, maybe 3.5

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
January 17th 2013



15332 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm glad you like it! I can see why someone would 3, maybe even 3.5 this.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
January 18th 2013



7140 Comments


Irving: the king of "Meh" reviews.

Queen, actually.

balazs
January 18th 2013



481 Comments


I wholeheartedly agree with the review, this is not BAD, has its moments, but as a whole it's absolutely average, I lost interest after the heartbreaker.

Cryio
March 5th 2013



96 Comments


It's official. Sowing is my new favorite reviewer on Sputnik.

I just like your style ^_^



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