Review Summary: with each thread you're pulling out, you're standing still somehow
How Rabbit in the Snare
sounds and how it feels are two very different things. It sounds pretty much exactly how you'd expect a band with the "indie/hip-hop" tag to sound. Fragile keyboards flutter and swoon around each track, snatches of pitched-up and foreign voices stutter-stepping like conversations from other rooms, with simplistic electronic elements that feint towards glitchiness but never really take the dive. Ivan Ives' slurred, slow delivery is okay at best, but his vivid narratives more than compensate for his faults in the technical area, not to mention his name makes him sound like a Stan Lee spinoff - rapper by day, crime fighter by night. Of course Aaron Marsh will be the draw here for most, and as befits a man who seems to exist outside of time and age his gorgeous falsetto remains constant, dancing like an angel around melodies that were etched on the insides of your ears before you ever heard them on record.
Wisely, Marsh and Ives don't split everything 50/50; Aaron takes point on the Copeland-style "Coldest Night" and "I Can Hear Your Laughter on the Wind", sticking close to his classic falsetto/piano ballads, while Ivan beautifully recreates his family's abrupt departure from Russia due to his father's anti-KGB paintings on "Dominant", and deconstructs a broken relationship with a removed, frighteningly cold hand on the misleadingly titled "Laugh". Neither vocalist really takes a dive into the unknown until "Touch", where a bumbling synth and Frank Ocean-style pitch shift twist Aaron's familiar voice into something alien and clinical; it's maybe too little too late on the experimentation front, but another tick in the box as far as quality consistency goes.
For an album recorded over a span of seven years, Rabbit in the Snare
demonstrates strangely little diversity, as Marsh and Ives seemed to have been in the mood for piano-heavy, late-night introspection for the majority of the decade. The upside is that the album, already slight and ethereal to a great extent, becomes divorced from any specific time period or sentiment; more the outline of a portrait of an abstract idea than a shaded-in painting. This is never more apparent than in "The Rope to Pull Yourself Together", first and finest song the duo ever released, far removed in style from Copeland's work and in time from the rest of The Lulls in Traffic's. "Rope" is almost a dream to me, a song heard multiple times in 2011 that I still feel like I've barely even approached, a half-remembered refrain that closes the album in an achingly sad but inevitable way. One of the decade's best melodies glides through the track like a sunbeam, but the message it carries – I get the impression of self-harm as therapy, but honestly who knows for certain - doesn't warm you so much as burn your skin. There are differences from the 2011 version, a click here or echo there where silence was before, but it's so subtle as to be almost imperceptible, like the song is as much a half-dream to the artist as it is to the listener. Rabbit in the Snare
won't change your life, and honestly I'd be surprised if it even impacted it – it exists above, or maybe beside all of this, a vague wisp of conversation you almost remember on a misty day. If you're so inclined, take the time to dream it again.