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By Simon Vansintjan
I was given this album at the music team meeting and asked kindly whether I could review it. I agreed that I would, but now I’m a bit intimidated. Mainly because I’ve been listening to the thing for the better part of the last month (I know, I am all that is evil), and … I’m still listening to it on an almost daily basis. This album will probably slot itself into my top five albums of the year, and there’s only been one month of 2010.
The album starts with the low rumbling build up “The Children”, complete with synthesized voices and steady drum beats. Slow paced it’s a fairly appropriate album opener, one that could have just as easily have acted as a closer. You know the type of song that I mean, it’s all-right - definitely not the highlight of the album, but it does hint at what it’s all about, and then fades smoothly into “Ambling Alp”. If you haven’t heard it yet, here is your chance. It’s a magnificently upbeat song with some magnificent pep-talk style lyrics - even if it has the makings of one that might easily become over-played. But after a month of continuous play on my computer - it hasn’t yet. And then the album launches into hypnotizing pop-psych-electro song after hypnotizing pop-psych-electro (yay for genres right guys?) song.
I could probably go on at some length about each song, but instead I’m just going to point out some of the highlights. “I Remember” is one of the slower songs on the album, a beautiful, complexly layered, drawn out broken-heart love song. “Rome”’s upbeat fast paced bass line stands in contrast to this, what seems to be a historical narrative from some barbarian’s point of view. Although, from the little I understood of the words sung in a synthy high pitch (possibly sped up?) this isn’t necessarily the truth. It’s probably the least complicated song on the album, simple bassline and world drumbeats, layered underneath some funky keyboard situation and snappy harmonious vocals. Penultimate album closer “Mondegreen” is another pop up two step song that tries its best to get you out of your seat, and I’m trying to figure out what the words are actually saying, given then tune’s title I’m not sure it’s actually “everyone is talking about me and my baby … “. “Grizelda” is the perfect compliment to “The Children” as a closing track, quieter and a bit slower.
I honestly think “O.N.E.” may be one of the best pop songs written in a long time. Smack in the middle of the album it has all the makings of a classic, with the added bonus of weird. The break towards the end of the song “it feels like being tranquilized…” is brilliantly placed. Every time I listen to the song I forget it happens, and then it happens, and it comes pretty damned near perfection. It also clocks in at five minutes and thirty seconds, a lot more time than you think while listening. In fact, the album seems to be filled with longer-than-average pop songs, yet at no point did I feel like a song dragged on for too long.
It’s a pop album straight from the electro-pop 80s and 90s world. I haven’t listened to their debut yet, and have heard that this album is quite a sea-change. But if this is anything to go by, I definitely will fairly soon.
On that note, has anyone else noticed ‘hip’ bands’ their obsession with cheap 70s and 80s looking animation? I love the inside cover of Odd Blood, but it’s just so kitsch. Ditto for some parts of this video (and ditto for Dan Deacon’s newest video, but there’s other bands that I have in mind as well).