"Who wants to be oblivious? / The new American apathy" sings Quentin Stoltzfus on the opening track of "We're Already There". Sounding like some echo of consumerist twenty-first century America, an advert offering blank anonymity to the lethargic disinterested American youth. Distaste of this culture of boredom remains apparent, despite glittering hopefulness of layered sleigh-bells and forever upwards twisting and turning vocals.
And yet, in context of twenty-first century Britain, this is the kind of album that can be met with disinterested apathy itself. Neither a post-post-punk jagged edge skitter of pop, nor a freakily experimental folk troupe meander, worn at the heels American rock can slide away completely un-noticed. Despite the immediate appearance of standard-fare alt pop/rock simplicity, as is often the case, the interest lies in the detail, and there is plenty of it. Certain songs paint pictures of stateside lifestyles; "Another One Goes By" is that distant longwave radio pop, to be played out on deep-south verandas, lounging back into a rocking chair watching the girls saunter past as lethargy kicks in; "At Twelve to Six" radiates like the flames of the sixties-hippies campfire, images of long-haired barefooted girls "twisting their hair in circles" atop the backing drones and flicked, flickering guitar strings; "Louise" is regaled by the three A.M. city observer, watching the naive running around town "searching for that fun you just can't buy". As across the rest of the album, Stoltzfus' lyrics trail into each other, the lack of endings creating a skewed mind-map of the ex-romantic.
This is also an album that seems to chase it's own tail. Amongst the tales of suburbia lie songs, dormant under the weight of circling chord patterns and lyrics trapped in the same timeworn phrases. "Northeast Winter" is stop with west-coast harmonies, but arrives nowhere. "For Energy Infinite" spins on the spot under impossible regrets, "Oh no, I know, I know, I know" ad infinitum. "See You In The Morning" also drags on into the distance with the perpetual motion of unchanging guitar chords. But when guitars eventually subside into electronic gurgles, and drums kick and strike back in, "I'm with You and The Constellations" is worth the wait. Dream pop, written by Weezer remixed by Kevin Shields, and just as soaring as such a collaboration could possibly be.
Where songs and lyrics start to drift into unmemorability, sounds and textures take centre stage. Skittering hi-hats, chiming tubular bells and the tweeting and chirping of robotic birds fill out instrumental sections. Basslines turn from thundering repitition to lethargic dub, guitars from plaintively plain strumming to delayed, trailing layers of feedback and fuzz.
Whilst you could wedge this album neatly between Beat Happening and The Flaming Lips, the affair isn't so regressively mid-nineties as that suggests. This world of robotic birds, digitally invented coastline noise and twenty-first century oblivion is distinctly modern.
7Rachel Cawley's Score