Review Summary: You might as well just return to your Sigur Ros or Do Make Say Think albums.
Jimmy LaValle seems like he would be a tense, young lad, given that he always seems to be playing second, English-language fiddle to genre giants like Sigur Ros or Do Make Say Think in the post-rock genre. Living out a career in the shadows of titans like these can drive one to push for improvement in each subsequent release in hopes of one day obtaining that god-like status, to step out and create a niche for their perfected blend of melodic, instrumental music. Last album Into The Blue
was arguably the artist’s best release yet, as he brought together his influences with some honey-tinged vocal melodies and displayed for listeners his fresh suit of experience that he had sowed together from several years in the industry. In efforts to continue this trend in improvement, Jimmy has called together a full-on band to fill in some of the gaps on new release A Chorus Of Storytellers
. Well good intentions are always nice, right" However, instead of filling in gaps, it seems Jimmy and crew have created some unavoidable-to-miss holes.
Getting straight to the issue: The Album Leaf’s A Chorus of Storytellers
suffers from problems with its flow as an album. While flow is a vital characteristic of any album from any given genre, flow in the post-rock and IBM worlds is an integral foundation of the music that determines if the audible landscape that an artist has created will actually reach its full potential as a listening experience. The album starts off by trying to build into an ethereal feel with opener “Perro” and the ironically-titled “Blank Pages”. This is fine and dandy, if not traditional and expected, but the buildup of the latter is quickly traded in for the first example of vocal melodies to be heard on the album in “Within Dreams”. If anything, the docile nature of “Perro” is a questionable inclusion on the album, especially considering the fact that “Blank Pages” would have opened up the album in a better way. Other examples of questionable track purposes and awkward transitions can be found in the sleep-inducing “Summer Fog” that’s sandwiched between the upbeat pleasantries of both “Stand Still” and “Until The Last”. It seems that Jimmy has forgotten when and where the proper touch on an album is needed to settle the listener properly, or, in contrast, arouse him to a standing ovation.
For what it’s worth, LaValle’s set of delicate chops are well-suited inclusions on his albums that generally fair better in comparison to those of many post-rock singers. However, the main fault with the vocal-lead tracks on A Chorus of Storytellers
is how and where they are implemented. For example, the next time we hear these vocal melodies after the third track are on “Falling From The Sun”, “We Are”, and “Almost There”. Every song that happens to be between these tracks--though, it should be mentioned that “We Are” and “Almost There” are placed right next to each other on the track listing--just feel like segues to these far-better songs. Obviously, this couldn’t have been The Album Leaf’s intentions for the album as six out of ten main tracks acting as interludes would just be lazy music creation. Unfortunately, though, the electronic and instrumental escapades that the band displays on these vocal-less tracks on A Chorus of Storytellers
are rather elementary; the only places that The Album Leaf really shine are to be found on the proper build-to-hopeful vestiges on “Until The Last” and the aforementioned foreshadowing of something greater on “Blank Pages”. More often than not, listeners who pick up this album will probably skip over half of it just to reach the electro-pop, vocal gems where the project really shines.
Only four out of ten tracks are actually worth listening to on A Chorus of Storytellers
" We have a problem. I’m not sure what exactly happened between 2006’s Into The Blue
and now, but Jimmy LaValle has noticeably regressed in his electronic post-rock, composition skills. The inclusion of a full-on band sounds like it should be a nice touch on paper, but in actuality, it’s really hard to tell what exactly these extra musicians add to LaValle’s sound that wasn’t already there to begin with. If anything, it’s logical to conclude that the band has actually taken something away from the San Diego project. In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say that we can just toss this one in with the subpar, post-rock hamper that's already filled to the brim. You might as well just return to your Sigur Ros or Do Make Say Think albums--A Chorus of Storytellers
has nothing on those guys.