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Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson - s/t (Say Hey)

21 September 2008

When your debut is produced by GRIZZLY BEAR’s CHRIS TAYLOR and TV ON THE RADIO’s KYP MALONE can be heard helping out, it makes people listen. There’s a lo-fi feel despite very clear moments; the production deliberately drifts in and out of focus. One minute the instruments are starkly in-your-face, the next they’re gauzy and shoved to the back. That complements MBAR’s singing, since he usually sounds either like he’s half-asleep or drunk, slurring his words and mumbling or half-shouting. It gives his music a sing-along quality magnified by loose backing vocals.

Song structures are loose as well, allowing for such magical moments as when “Above the Sun” halfway through turns mid-phrase into a harmonium-powered instrumental of delicate beauty. At other times, the band erupts into bursts of ramshackle guitar fury worthy of Neil Young (and “The Ongoing Debate Re: Present Vs. Future” recalls the chord progression of “Words”). All of this supporting/surrounding lyrics of desolate debauchery, anomie, and despair, as though trying to turn “Holocaust” into party music. Intense.