Aeon Station
Observatory


4.0
excellent

Review

by Scoot USER (42 Reviews)
December 17th, 2021 | 9 replies


Release Date: 12/10/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Your move, Charles Bissell.

Kevin Whelan has had enough.

2003 was the last time we heard from New Jersey-based quartet The Wrens. By that point, the band members were already well into their thirties and tired of the music business. Yet, from the late stages of their career came their defining release - The Meadowlands is a timeless classic that has only gotten better with time. It's one of the most vulnerable, honest and bygone catchy indie rock albums ever written. The magic of Bissell and Whelan was incredibly dynamic and set a bar that few bands before and since have managed to reach. And just as quickly as the magic was captured, it faded into nothing.

Years passed. We heard very little. Fans were desperate for any sort of a follow-up, let alone anything of the caliber of The Meadowlands. But there was nothing except for radio silence and the occasional leaked track that gave hints of what was coming down the pipeline. The band members eventually moved on (the Whelan brothers ended up working in big pharma and going the corporate route) and gave up the gig life. Fans had made peace with the fact that we were likely never getting a sequel. But, try as he might, Bissell has never really called it quits. He continued to tease fans with nuggets of news, keeping them dangling on a string and ever-hopeful that someday, they might finally get the white whale release.

Eventually, the rest of the band decided that it was time to move on from their estranged frontman, and we got a surprise release of ten songs under the name Aeon Station. Bissell allegedly had no idea this was happening, and while his absence from the album is clearly noticeable, this is a well-crafted release that manages to mostly live up to expectations that could only be described as exorbitant. Whelan is as crafty and whimsical as ever, despite having many years between album releases (nearly twenty, by the time of this review). Five of the ten tracks were allegedly cleansed of Bissell's vocals and re-released, so the inevitable comparison to The Wrens is warranted, but the rest of the band sounds sharp and like they haven't missed a beat. Album standouts "Fade" and "Queens" carry a ton of nostalgia, and lyrics on album closer "Alpine Drive" mention Whelan's laments about unfinished songs from years passed. One has to think that's a direct message to Bissell, whose perfectionistic tendencies ended up heavily contributing to the rifts in the band that eventually drew everybody apart.

Make no mistake, this album was doomed from the start for being compared to an absolute landmark in the indie rock scene. And despite the mammoth expectations, Whelan and co. have managed to lose the cobwebs and craft a release that brings much needed closure to one of the most patient fanbases of all time. Honestly, the worst part of Observatory is that Bissell's bitterness and knack for vocal harmonies would have taken this album to the next level, and Whelan likely knows this to be true. The Wrens were truly a group of musicians who were greater than the sum of their parts, but if this is the final chapter from a band that has known nothing but the weight of expectations - it's a damn fine way to close the book.



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user ratings (19)
3.7
great
recommended by reviewer
The Wrens The Meadowlands


Comments:Add a Comment 
Scoot
December 17th 2021


20957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pretty great album all things considered



really wish we could have had one final wrens release though

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
December 17th 2021


44404 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice rev, glad this got a write-up. gonna hear this very soon

Digging: yourboyfriendsucks! - Episode 1

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
December 17th 2021


15311 Comments


So much lore

Digging: cLOUDDEAD - cLOUDDEAD

fogza
December 17th 2021


4148 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

observed

Digging: Tusks - Dissolve

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
December 17th 2021


3324 Comments


this seems like more of a recapitulation of The Wrens' (very well-known) history than a review of the album at hand. a beautifully-written recap! but it could use a lil more delving into the meat of the album

Digging: Tirzah - Colourgrade

fogza
December 17th 2021


4148 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

agreed, i think the album deserves some love too

theBoneyKing
December 20th 2021


21202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

OFF TO FIND A BETTER LOVE!

Digging: 40 Watt Sun - Perfect Light

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
December 27th 2021


3284 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

HERE COMESSSS A BETTER LOVEEEE

Crawl
January 6th 2022


2864 Comments


Man, Leaves is just amazing. I've listened to this album so much over the last month.



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