Shop our Big Takeover store for back issues, t-shirts & CDs
Follow The Big Takeover
This is the San Francisco band’s second album, but its first for Beggars Banquet—moving on up the indie ladder. The disc opens with a minute of buzzing, loopy, phased, speed-shifted solo guitar so striking that it gets its own track even though it leads directly into the driving first song, “On & On.” This wonderfully textured music takes me back to the early 1990s, when (mostly English) bands such as SWERVEDRIVER, SLOWDIVE, and KITCHENS OF DISTINCTION erected brooding, monumental mid-tempo song-sculptures built from multi-layered, effects-drenched guitars chiming, droning, spattering, and most of all soaring. And, in fact, when I play this disc at Sound Fix, customers often assume the band’s English.
Among the other highlights: “Harmed” is a cathartic burst of energy with some powerful drumming by DONNY NEWENHOUSE. “Pitfalls” is keyed around a skirling guitar lick in the verse, while the refrain features slides up and down across a sixth. “Breet” is more uptempo and alternates spare instrumentation in the verse—with the twitchy beat front-and-center—with everything kicking in for the refrain, plus a tension-building bridge. Occasionally the specter of THE CURE peeks through some of these songs, especially in the vocals; this one’s an example to a degree, but “11:11” is the epitome. It seems like there are two lead vocalists, but I could be wrong, though guitarists KRAYG BURTON (the founder) and NYLES LANNON (TECHNICOLOR) are both credited with vocals. (The other members are bassist JUSTIN LABO—also of Technicolor—and keyboardist JASON RUCK.) “He’s a Deep Deep Lake” effectively contrasts a massive intro with a suddenly stripped-down verse propelled at first by acoustic guitar strumming. The absolutely gorgeous “Like You Know” ends the album on an up note, even if the lyrics seem bittersweet, as usual.
Music as complex as this rarely breaks through to the mainstream, but happily the alternative scene’s big enough now that plenty of people will enjoy this excellent album.