In the art-for-art’s sake hothouse of New York’s avant-indie scene drawing lines is a little like planting your flag on shifting sands: artistic pretension’s rarely more than a cast-off inhibition away, and sorting the wheat from the chaff can feel an arduous process.
Sprung from the ashes of noisy folk troupe First Nation and featuring the talents of Animal Collective member Dave Portner’s sister Abby, Rings is the latest gaggle of misfits to sing songs round the neo-tribalist campfire, and you can’t help but wonder if it’s getting a little too crowded for its own good.
Black Habit may or may not be a concept album based around the secret loves and longings of a want-away nun, and if that sounds a little like hard work, well, we’re hardly going to disagree. Combining elements of The Dirty Projectors’ piecemeal pageantry and Coco*Rosie’s mile-wide precious streak, along with the joie de repetition of their aforementioned Paw Tracks paymasters, it’s a sporadically compelling record wafted together like flimsily tied shoelaces.
Their flair for delicately woven melodies and frayed harmony parts is commendable but, really, at times listening to Black Habit is like wandering into a primal therapy session for a collection of bereaved chipmunks, and for all its charms it’s difficult to shake the notion that instead of running circles round the opposition, Rings are simply moving in ever-decreasing circles.
6Alex Denney's Score