Onward + Upward
Elastic Heart Records
much a respectful homage to the dreamy, chimey, tunesmiths that
came before them -- Yo La Tengo, Bedhead, Tristeza to name a few
-- as it is a modern exercise in pure ambience for ambience' sake,
this mostly instrumental debut works because these three Lincoln
lads love what they're doing with every backward-tracked note.
When I say Yo La Tengo,
I mean the early, trippy stuff, dead-on right down to the mumbling
vocals (on the very few songs where nasal, sad-sack croaker Ryan
Dee tries to emote), the dreadline string synths, the echoing guitars.
Though distinctly downcast, there is a definite, undeniable groove
that quietly snaps thanks to the simplest of melodies and arrangements.
When they tech it up (the subtle programming on "We Were Safe,
Now We're Sorry") things shift to the Notwist side of the house,
which is a good thing.
They hit their peak on
the slight "You Keep Me Up at Night, Late," a pretty guitar-and-organ
number that could be the soundtrack in an indie film when the urban
scenester says goodbye and heads home alone along dark, freshly
numbers -- the soundscape "In Lourve," album closer "Last
Minutes of the Day" -- fall flat and have all the appeal of
the drone-sounds played on the dream-escalator at O'Hare. They're
unnecessary filler in a CD loaded with some of the most gorgeous
post-ambient stuff I've heard since the genre began to slip away
with the break up of Tristeza. Seems no one's doing it anymore,
certainly not around here, and not as well as these guys.
Posted July 14, 2003.
Copyright © 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
distinctly downcast, there is a definite, undeniable groove
that quietly snaps thanks to the simplest of melodies and arrangements."