Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Beast Moans is a fluid, calm album; a dense soundscape of a record where eventually you hear everything including the kitchen sink. While there are plenty of different things going on musically, none of it is jarring. And jarring is kind of what I expected given that Swan Lake is these three Canucks, from left: Spencer Krug a la Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown (and occassionally Frog Eyes I guess), Casey Mercer the lead man from Frog Eyes, and Dan Bejar AKA Destroyer, also known for our favorites the New Pornographers.
While these three do pull out pretty much every trick they know, the fundamentals are keyboards and piano, acoustic and distorted electric guitars (which sometimes feel like an afterthought), synths, some very creative percussion (when its there), and constantly shifting vocal duties and backup methods. The first three songs are pretty unremarkable, and the fourth seems destined to sink with its promising but frustratingly quiet and weak melody until Dan chants "a venue called rubella" forever as the piano rises behind him, which oddly enough makes the song. Next up is the only potential mixtape track, "All Fires" which I have listened to over twenty times in the last two days. Its not outstanding, but its the most straightforward acoustic ballad and has a way of digging in and not letting go.
The rest is a cohesive, lowkey mix of stuff, much of which is put together by Mercer who seems to be taking this opportunity to test what else he can do. It's Sunset Rubdown without the electro-glitch, Wolf Parade without the anthem, Frog Eyes without the guts/insanity, and Destroyer without the, well actually some of these are pretty much Destroyer songs. "Freedom", in particular, has stolen a vocal melody from one of his New Pornographers songs (I'm nearly certain but I can't place which one) and a structure and production that would place it on his last record Destroyer's Rubies. Its really good. The other almost great track is "Are You Swimming In Her Pools?", a Spencer-led number that has some really cool shifts in tempo and volume and is the most reminiscent of Wolf Parade. If you're a lyrics kind of person you might find more to dive into on this album seeing as how these are three very talented songwriters, but the "band" (this is probably a one-off) doesn't put the words center-stage acoustically so I myself don't feel guilty about not concentrating on them, even though I probably should. On the other hand, if you're a verse-chorus type person you should probably keep your distance.
In the end, I was disappointed because my hopes were very high and it just felt a little uninspired. But this is a good record with no bad songs and four very good ones, one which feels complete of itself even if I want it to be more. I suspect it will grow on me.
Because I want to get this off on the right foot, I've linked a place where you can grab this, until it hits the street of course after which you would be obligated to purchase it. (I think/hope the download has a glitch on "Petersburg, Liberty Theater, 1914")
Rating: mMmGravy (75%)
yeah, I invented a rating system. Gravy is worth forty. An M is worth twenty. an m before the M is ten and after the M is five. Hence that 75%. 55% is tricky. I guess it will be mmGravy and we'll just hafta remember that one. Hmm, there's no way to tell between 45% and 50%. Until further notice, nothing can be 45%. If its worse than a 40, you get to describe what kind of nasty gravy it is. Maybe it has boogers in it!
When you read the rating, you MUST say it out loud.
The rating system is obviously open to input/innovation/overhaul.
post post script
And if anyone wants to review anything else, I don't know, maybe you somehow got your hands on the new Shins album super-early or something, for example, that would be, as they say here in South Bend, cool. Until then, I'm here with you Scott. The Alfalfa to your Spanky. Er. Yeah.
post post post script
I think this should be our new blog tagline:
All aboard the Gravy Train! er, Boat!
Posted by Ben at 11/28/2006 08:34:00 AM