Sunday, July 25, 2010

Best Postponed to Death

I hang my head in shame to confess it has been over a year since I last posted record reviews. And that, a couple of months ago, I felt so bad about not ever writing record reviews that I started writing these reviews and then set them aside to finish a few more later. But "later" never really came, so today I'll just post what I finished months ago and resolve to write some more soon.

Remember, all of these records were of interest in late May of 2010, so they might as well have been big in late May of 2002.

Oh, and I'll spare you the suspense: two out of three of these records I'm a real fuddy duddy about.
The National — High Voltage

Engage me in a conversation about the National and I'll undoubtedly attest to their quality, their moodiness, their big important torrential weather sound, and observe that every song on any of their albums sounds like it could be the first song of an album. And these standard statements of mine definitely apply to High Voltage, so if you're game for another National record, or ready for your first, then here we go, have at it. I did and I liked it. There finally seems to be a big pile of buzz on this record and about the band, perhaps they're now ready for their proper mainstream emergence and probably we'll be finding this record near the tops of all the Top 10 Albums lists come December? But this one is much more Veckatimest than Wolfgang Amadeus National, that goes without saying. But I said it.

Sleigh Bells — Treats

All the ingredients are very much present for an album I'd love: girl singing sweetly accompanied by absurdly huge noise, end of the earth drums and buzzing guitars but for some reason this record just doesn't work for me. It makes me feel like someone is trying to tickle me very, very hard and I'm just not ticklish. Generally I'm inclined to be very down with a noisy mess, but it seems to me that this system booms for the sake of booming and there ain't much more to it than that. If you like any Sleigh Bells song that you've already heard then I cannot not recommend Treats to you, I think the problem is just me . . . like when I listen to the Ting Tings, a connection simply is not being made and I suppose my life is the poorer for it.

She & Him — Volume Two

Two summers ago we were all pleasantly surprised (perhaps a little overcome?) by how much we liked M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel's first She and Him record, so it was exciting to learn a while back that that wasn't just a one off indie (music) star/indie (film) star collaboration but that they had another record coming out. Yeah. Well, truthfully this is how I feel about this record: wring it like the damp rag that it is tightly enough and you might squeeze one, maybe possibly two likable songs out of it it but on the whole Volume Two is . . . annoying? The majority of the songs just remind me of ZD's jingle for Cotton with lyrics often bordering on stupefying (consider these from Over It Over Again: "Why do I always want to sock it to you hard?/ Let you know what love is like when I'm keeping all my cards up on the shelf/
Where you can't see them." Cards . . . like playing cards? Or birthday cards? And is this guy way too short? Or are the cards turned around? I'm getting a headache.) I'd recommend just sticking to Volume One, but Volume Two is mediocre enough to reach back in time and take a little of the shine off that once well-liked record for me.

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